GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.
Rain during the weekend followed by a moderate cold front Monday and Tuesday will continue the progression of inshore fishing to winter patterns, with reds and snook in deeper potholes as well as inside rivers and canals, most trout sliding out to deeper grass or coral areas. With a dark moon coming on New Year’s Eve, tides will show increased flow and offer some opportunities for finding tailing reds, sheepshead and black drum on hard bottom flats like those along the Southshore area of Tampa Bay in the last hour of the fall.
Another possibility: Seek out shallow mud bottom bays as the sun gets high, pole or paddle silently and make long casts to the redfish that will be hanging there soaking up the sun. There will also be plenty of sheepshead in rocky canals and coastal river bends from now into late February, readily caught on fresh-cut shrimp, oysters or green mussels.
From the Venice-Charlotte Harbor area, captain Van Hubbard reports good action in the passes on flounder, sheepshead, blues, Spanish and some pompano, with kings possible on the outside when the water flattens out; www.captvan.com.
Captain Ray Markham continues to put his clients on nice reds and trout in the backcountry potholes of lower Tampa Bay, tossing an assortment of DOA and MirrOlure products — no live bait. He says pompano are a good bet this week, too: “Pompano can be caught on the Middleground flats in Sarasota Bay, around the Sunshine Skyway and adjacent shoals between the Bulkhead on lower Tampa Bay and Pinellas Point and at the Fort De Soto Fishing Piers,” says Markham. “Jigs like the Doc’s Goofy jigs and CAL Jigs with Shad tails will take them regularly.” For details, see www.captainraymarkham.com.
Most offshore action is from 125 feet on out due to chilly waters inshore. Moderate winds after the front settles should make the run possible, and those who know where the wrecks and springs are located are doing well on AJ’s and kingfish, with red grouper available on rock bottom areas.
In freshwater, Captain Sean Rush continues to catch and release lots of trophy bass at Rodman Reservoir northeast of Ocala, all on big wild shiners fished under the hyacinth drifts. Rush says now through February is the best time of year for a 10-pounder; www.floridatrophybass.com.
At Okeechobee, Kissimmee and other lakes in the Kissimmee Chain, speckled perch or crappie are biting well around the bulrushes and other sand bottom areas on small jigs worked vertically. The Kissimmee River itself is also turning out lots of keeper specks along the weed edges. Bass fishing is at the annual peak for big fish at Okeechobee, with flippin’ the top artificial tactic, or running big shiners in the potholes for live baiters.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at [email protected]