Tampa Bay Fishing Report By: Capt. Woody Gore

If you’re a trout enthusiast like me, here are a few tips for catching these winter-time favorites as they begin showing up on the coastal Tampa Bay flats. Trout fishing begins to improve during the winter months, significantly, as the water temperatures drop.

It’s important to know which regions are open/closed. If you venture into a closed region with the trout you’ve kept, you have violated the law and could receive a citation. Check out myfwc.com for details

Since trout are semi-territorial, they tend to school together returning to the same areas. A good rule of thumb is to locate broken-bottom grass flats with sandy, rocky bottoms or a combination of both. Since trout are notorious bait chasers, they typically chase their next meal and trap it on the surface. This form of surface trapping food works in their favor.

Fishing topwater lures is a hoot, especially when working with a group of actively feeding fish.  Check weather conditions, because winter-time trout fishing is often distinguished by more robust cloud cover and somewhat wintery conditions. Trout are highly selective. If a fast and irregular presentation is not working, it’s time to slow down. You must make your lure look more tempting. Strikes often come when the lure moves slightly after sitting idle or wobbles slowly across the surface. Another method uses soft plastics rigged to gradually drop. Remember, when using soft plastics, almost every strike happens as the lure falls toward the bottom.

Like many other species, trout stop feeding or scatter when pressured by boats, anglers or predators. If spooked badly enough, they will scatter. Regardless of the circumstances, just because the bite slows down doesn’t mean the party’s over. Some fish are there, just recovering from their last big feed. Enjoy the fact that you’re on the water; slow down and relax. Often, the bite continues after a while. Remember, it’s called fishing–not catching.