St. Pete Report By: Capt. Anthony Corcella

I Love Me Some Sea Bass!!

The sea bass have been on fire!  We have been catching them on almost every trip out to the St. Pete reef within the last few weeks. The sizes on these guys have been roughly 14 to 16 inches with some smaller ones mixed in.

The choice of bait has been live or dead greenbacks but, if you can’t get them, a few dozen hand-picked shrimp from Mitch’s Bait and Tackle will definitely do the trick. (By the way, he pretty much has them all the time). The setup that I use is a Penn 3500ssv lined with 15-pound braid along with a one-ounce sinker and a 3/0 hook tipped with 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.

While fishing for the sea bass, don’t be surprised if you also hook up with a few snappers, too. If you’re ready for arm pain, the big black drums are also around. We were broken off a few times by these big bruisers that were in the 40 to 50-pound range while we were hunting for sheepshead at the bridges. However, we were able to wrangle up a few of the smaller 15-pound class fish.

I have, also, been snook fishing lately. I’ve been throwing free lined shrimp on a moving tide with success. If you have patience, flip out some dead bait and just let it sit. You will be surprised by what you might hook up with this time of year!

When the cold fronts move in, it’s time to fish the deep residential canals for trout. When there’s a super low tide, there’s no water on the flats; therefore, the places these fish can go for both food and safety are limited. I like to use live shrimp on the bottom with a three-foot leader rigged with a split shot. This is, also, an excellent time to break out those stinky Berkeley Gulps, as now is the time when these baits won’t get pecked apart by pinfish or puffers.

Put these tips to use and you’ll set yourself up for some great cold weather fishing.