Lower Tampa Bay action should continue to be hot
GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant. Captain Ray Markham says action around lower Tampa Bay has been great leading up to the cold front and should continue to be good this weekend, particularly in the afternoons as the water warms up. "Redfish action in Terra Ceia Bay, Joe Bay and areas along the South Shore of Tampa Bay has been stellar over the past couple of weeks," Markham said. "The Eppinger Rex gold spoon has been a consistent producer aboard my boat, with anglers averaging six to 10 reds per trip, and trout have bumped up in sizes well over the max of one over 20 inches. Many trout have been 25 inches or more. Flounder catches have been terrific with many ranging in the upper teens — all around great winter fishing." Markham can be contacted at www.captainraymarkham.com.Captain Scott Moore also has found success around Anna Maria and south into Sarasota Bay this week. "This is one of the best Decembers we've had in years," Moore said. "Pompano everywhere in the glass minnows — we catch three or four on every stop on shrimp and on the Lil John jig. There are some 4-pound trout running with the pompano, which we find mostly outside the bar or in the sloughs. Sheepshead are in the potholes and some trout and reds back in there too on low tides, and live shrimp is best for all of them. There are millions of mullet pouring out the big passes now and a whole lot of cast netters catching them." Moore can be reached at www.moorefishing.com. In freshwater, live shiners run along the outside of the weedbeds in Kissimmee, Toho and Rodman are the sure way to a lunker this month and next. The tactic also works well around midlake weeds in Lake Tarpon and along the channel in Lake Rosseau on the Withlacoochee. For crappies, slow-trolling a Hal-fly or Wally Marshall crappie jig in 1/32- to 1/16-ounce a couple feet off bottom at depths of 8 to 10 feet will be the prime tactic until February, when the fish start heading to shoreline reeds to spawn. All of the Kissimmee Chain is prime speck country, as is Lake George and Lake Crescent on the St. Johns.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org