Fishing this past week out of Island Discount tackle on Anna Maria Island has been productive when the weather cooperates. The weather has been the deciding factor in where I have been fishing, typical for the wintertime fishing pattern.
Dock fishing for redfish and black drum has been good with the fish feeding under deepwater docks with heavy barnacle growth as they will hold more crabs and crustaceans living on the pilings. Rigging with a live shrimp and a split shot weight will get the bait in the strike zone. On my recent trips, we have had success with redfish in the upper-slot range.
Sheepshead fishing is starting to get hot as the bigger ones are now schooling. Nearshore reefs and artificial reefs are holding some bigger fish. Sheepshead to 5 pounds are coming over the gunnels. I am only keeping sheepshead 15 inches and up as they will provide some bigger tasty fillets for the dinner table. Use a light action pole to feel the subtle bite of the convict fish chewing on your shrimp.
Speckled-trout fishing has been good with some nice-sized slot fish landed, including some that are gator-sized (20 inches plus). A live shrimp rigged under a popping cork with a tiny split shot will get the bait down to where the speckled trout are feeding and help to get the bait away from the diving birds.
Looking forward, the wintertime fishing pattern will continue to be productive and offer some excellent chances of catching some nice fish in the coming weeks. Look for the cold fronts to continue, but the strength, frequency and duration will be on the decease as the start of the spring pattern is just a few weeks away.
Capt. Mark Howard
SumoTime Fishing Charters LLC