It’s February and just maybe we’ll be able to put the cold fronts from the past two months behind us. It’s not so much the temperatures but the wind that has slowed many of us from getting out. And when we can get out, the fishing is quite good.
Warmer water discharging from the Big Bend Power Plant has kept shoreline action there decent. Jacks, cats, smaller snapper, flounder, shark, sheepshead and the occasional cobia can be targeted right from the shoreline.
You might use boats but the wind has made it tough lately. Speckled trout are real active on our grass flats. The Little Manatee River area and south past Cockroach Bay are great places to drift if conditions allow. Where you find grass you usually find trout.
Along the ship channel edges, lots of nice snapper, sheepshead and flounder will flat empty your shrimp bucket of bait. If you can get out, take a lot of bait with you. With a good bite on, you’re going to regret it if you run out.
Another idea is to go down by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and fish off the rock piles. The snapper there have been big and real eager to cooperate. In that area I like to tip a small jig with shrimp rather than just let down baits to sit on the bottom.
Get ready to hang on and maybe yell excited words. Grouper and the occasional goliath notice those jigs and may want one of your hooked snapper before you can get it up. When that happens, the adrenalin rush will quickly warm a cold day.
There’s a new bait shop in Ruskin. It’s called South Bay Bait and Tackle and is located at 19 Seventh St. N.E. That’s around the corner from the front of the old South Shore Bait and Tackle location, just off U.S. 41. The owner, John Kyriazis, is stocked with tackle and filling his new tanks with live bait. He also has worms and plans on creek chubs for your fresh-water fishing. I’m going to have to find out what a saltwater fish thinks of a worm.
Talk of a 172-pound cobia is common in the news. That fish did not come from around here but was taken 50 miles off the coast of Brazil with a spear. The largest hook-and-line cobia is “just” 135 pounds. I don’t know what the largest is from our power plant area. The monster ones are offshore but there’s no fencing in the oceans to keep them from visiting us.
You have a chance at almost anything fishing our local waters. A good start is to get out there and…
Catch ‘em up.
Larry Malinoski, aka the FishHawk, is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 469-7251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.