Time to hit the grass flats in the Gulf
Fisherman's World, 727-942-8944: After a break for the cold weather and the holiday, anglers should be getting back at it this week, says Matt. If he had to put his money on inshore action following the cold snap, he'd be hitting the shallow grass flats with jigs and plastics for trout. Likely spots are behind Dutchman Key at Anclote Key, the productive trout flats off Palm Harbor and around the spoil islands of the Intracoastal Waterway. The water is cold, but not so cold yet, and fish will be sunning on the open grass beds. Offshore, he recommends starting in 25 feet for grouper. Anglers have been going deeper, but it has not been required. Plenty of keeper fish have been taken without running a long way. Florida Fisherman, 727-868-6405: Anglers have taken their cue from the weather, and cold air means cold water. That's made the warm-water outfall at the Anclote power plant the hottest game in town, at times. When the plant is pumping out warm water, the action is best. Pompano, trout and even some undersized grouper have been landed, along with about every other species. Offshore, anglers are reporting they've been finding their grouper by fishing the first clean water with rocky bottom they can find. They have not been too specific of late, but the grouper bite has been shallow, ranging from as little as 15 feet of Hernando Country to around 20 or 25 feet off Pasco. One Stop Bait, 727-842-5610: Dwayne reports the pier at the Anclote power plant has turned up some pompano and permit. Silly Willy jigs tipped with frozen shrimp have been bagging pompano to 16 inches, and a few of the permit taken ranged up to 28 inches. The outfall has been turning up some nice trout, as well, with fish 18 to 20 inches long typical, and a few oversized fish to 25 inches reported. Shrimp and D.O.A. shrimp have been good baits. Gulf Harbors canals have been giving up sheepshead to 3 pounds, with shrimp, sand fleas and fiddler crabs working best. Pier 60, 727-462-6466: Bob reports the holidays and cool weather have cut into the fishing activity at the pier, but the anglers who are showing up are reporting silver trout and whiting. Both species are regulars through the winter and into early spring. Most have been running 10 to 13 inches, with frozen shrimp and jigs working well. Sheepshead are another cold-water favorite, and anglers are bagging a few on shrimp and fiddler crabs.Dubai Long Pier, 727-391-9398: Beach Bob says the pier activity has been off because of anglers taking a break for the holidays and to avoid the cold weather. Some black drum to 25 inches were taken on shrimp and fiddler and pass crabs. Fish have been close to the pier pilings. Flounder have been a good bet, as well, with fish 12 to 15 inches typical. Live shrimp weighted and fished on the bottom have been producing best. Some reds were reported, with fish 18 to 22 inches landed, along with some undersized.
Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, a fishing Web site specializing in daily fishing reports displayed on animated fish tracking charts.