Skinny Water Report By Derick Burgos & Natalie Manrique

The winter may not be the best time of year to fish in Tampa Bay, but it can still be productive and is one my favorite times to fish.

One reason I like it is that I don’t have to get all wet and throw the cast net for bait fish; just a bag of soft plastic jigs or some live shrimp will do the trick. However, the biggest reason I like fishing in the winter is that we catch a lot of fish.

The most sought-after species in the Tampa Bay area is speckled trout. This is the time of year when bigger trout, 20 inches and over, are common.

You typically find these fish in sea grass beds. The most productive method of fishing the grass flats of Tampa Bay is bouncing the bottom with soft plastic jigs.

My charters love this, because a lot of them fish like this up north for bass. This is a lot of fun and you don’t need to be an expert angler to fish this way.

Another popular way is using a live shrimp under a cork. This may not be the most exciting way to fish, but it is very effective–especially if you have children with you. They will catch a lot of fish and have fun doing it.

Fishing the residential canals and docks of Tampa Bay is another one of my favorite winter time techniques. It’s a great way to catch a variety of fish while enjoying some beautiful scenic homes for which Florida is known.

The water in the canals along St. Pete Beach is typically a few degrees warmer, because the sea walls and docks generate heat. This warmth will attract all kinds of fish.

Live shrimp with just enough weight to get to the bottom is all you need. Sheepshead, redfish and black drum are the most common fish under the docks, but we also catch snook, trout, grouper and flounder. We’ve had many days where we’ve gotten into huge schools of reds under the docks, just like we would on the flats in the spring.

Get off the couch and get on some fish. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the fish won’t eat!