With the passing of all the recent cold fronts, the 55- to 59-degree water temperature and the influx of the snowbirds, the winter fishing pattern has arrived in full force. Taking advantage of what Mother Nature gives you can yield a nice creel of fish for fun action and a bag of fillets. Fishing out of Island Discount Tackle on Anna Maria Island, redfish, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and black drum have made a strong appearance in our area.
Redfish of varying sizes from 12-inch rats to 30-inch stumps have been feeding under the deep-water docks. Use a live shrimp rigged on a size 1 hook tied to a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader with a size 5 or 7 split shot. Toss your bait with a sidearm casting motion to get the bait deep underneath the dock. It is important to get the bait deep under the dock to where the predators are living. Wait for the thump of the fish chewing the bait and slowly lift your rod to feel the fish on and then set the hook.
Sheepshead have been feeding heavily as they are starting to gather in big schools. Using the same rig as mentioned above my recent charters have brought some 18-inch convicts to the fillet table. Mangrove snapper and black drum also are coming to the party.
Looking forward, the speckled trout fishing will start to turn on as the fish will school in deeper water and school in areas where the water temperature is a few degrees warmer. Until next time, keep the slack out of your line and feel the thump of the predator inhaling your bait.
Capt. Mark Howard
SumoTime Fishing Charters LLC