Tampa Bay Fishing Report By: Capt. Woody Gore

Florida is a great place to live, especially in the Winter. Long sleeve shirts make for comfortable fishing days. For the most part, the bite’s been intense, slowing for the occasional passing front. For some reason, when the weather becomes unsettled, it usually means a front is approaching, bringing either cooler or warmer temperatures. One of the best times to catch saltwater fish is just before a front goes through and the barometric pressure drops.

Winter is coming! So, shortly, the water will be cooler and the fish will eat. Get ready, get set and let’s go fishing. Keep your eyes open, as many Winter species begin showing up. Kingfish, mackerel, permit, sheepshead and mangrove snapper start heading our way looking for easy meals.

The snook bite should get slower, as the water cools. It seems like the magic number is around 70 degrees. Deep passes early in the mornings, spread out to the shallower waters as the day warms. Greenbacks, pinfish and grunts are the best live bait for those looking for live bait action. Suppose you like artificial topwater lures. If you’re an artificial angler, try any with the walk-the-dog action like the MirrOlure Top Dog Jr., Heddon Zara Spook or Spit’n Image. Soft plastics are always producers, especially when rigged on a 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jig-head. Try tossing these close to the mangroves and working them away slowly using a walk-the-dog action.


Redfish will cruise the outer flats, then travel into the mangroves as the tide gets higher. Large mullet schools are good places to find redfish mixed with other species. Live greenbacks can sometimes start them eating when you toss several baits around the flats or near the mangroves. Try keeping the baits within casting distance to draw the fish to you. Expect excitement, when pitching artificial hard lures and soft plastics around the mangroves during an incoming tide.


Cool weather and water should produce good trout action on incoming or outgoing tides, especially when using topwater popping plugs on a calm early morning grass flat. Try popping the lure several times and letting it float. Repeat until you get a strike. On the other hand, live shrimp or artificial DOA shrimp suspended under a popping cork should also produce nice trout.