South Shore Tampa Bay Report By: Capt. Christopher Taylor

Late Winter Redfish

It’s late Winter and the fishing’s going to get even better the closer we get to Spring. January is known for its cold weather and redfish. There are many estuaries to choose from in Tampa Bay that are holding large numbers of redfish willing to eat anything in front of them. Ruskin is one of the many hot spots for catching big redfish. The redfish being caught are averaging anywhere from 25 to 30 inches, and many fish 30 to 38 inches are being brought to the boat.

With the month of December having an epic start, I estimate the redfish bite to carry itself into April. Target areas for catching these fish are mangrove lines and grass flats adjacent to any good span of mangroves or light structure. Fish the mangrove lines during higher tides and the grass flats on lower tides. Finding moving water is key to locating fish. Still water will hold fish; however, I find that many fish looking to eat are in areas of moving tides.

When it comes to fishing for redfish, you must remain stealthy in your approach, and pay close attention to the activity presented to you on the water’s surface. I make it a good habit of noting any disturbance on top of the water. I wear a pair of polarized sunglasses to reduce the glare on the water and to help spot fish. Wearing polarized sunglasses can also help locate pot holes that may hold fish, as well as, “swash channels”–small lines made on the bottom created by current flow. Fish often use these swash channels as a pathway to venture the area of a shallow flat.

Choice baits for redfish this month are scaled sardines and palm sized pinfish. I present these baits free-lined with a 2/0 to 3/0 hook on a 25 to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. When determining where to soak your baits, anchor your boat up in any of the areas mentioned before, depending on tide and where the most water is moving. Be patient–you may have to wait for the bite to start picking up. However, when it does, the wait is well worth the effort.