I was waiting till the last minute this week to put in my Lake Manatee fishing report with hopes that the fishing would turn around. It didn’t.
We have fished all week, and the fishing has been consistently slow. I would love to say it’s for some particular reason, but I would be lying. The pure fact of the matter is I don’t have a clue.
The fronts have been blowing in, but the water temperature has come back up to where the fish should be starting to turn on again. The crappie should be full of eggs by now, but I’m finding only about a third of the females are holding eggs and most are not developed enough to be ready for spawning in February. March looks like the more likely month for spawning.
I’m looking for the fishing to turn around sometime soon as all the conditions are prime for good fishing. On the positive side, we did catch a couple of keeper-size sunshine bass and a couple of nice catfish. I’m looking for things to turn around soon and return to the great start we had this crappie season up until about three weeks ago. Crappie are some of the best-tasting fish that swim, be it saltwater or freshwater, and I’m looking forward to getting back to sending people home with full bags of fillets.
Capt. Mike Senecal
Fishing out of Anna Maria Island on my 23-foot Hydrasport tower boat this past week has yielded a variety of fish landed and some nice trophies released. This time of year, the weather has been all over the charts with a “heat wave” persisting the past week or so.
Redfish have slowed down around the docks due to the warm weather but can be caught on the flats. Work the potholes at low tide with a live shrimp rigged on a popping cork. A Berkley gulp or similar artificial pulled through the pothole will get the reds to chew.
Some trophy-sized speckled trout have been landed with the big one this week, measuring 26 inches, landed by Ian Gilchrist of England. He also landed a couple 25-inch beauties. A large select shrimp rigged with a small split shot under a popping cork enticed the speckled trout to bite.
Sheepshead have started to make their move into Tampa Bay waters and will only increase in numbers as the winter season progresses. A shrimp rigged on a No. 1 hook with enough weight to get it to the bottom will get these fish to chew. One tip to catching the sheepshead is to be ultra sensitive to the slightest bump in your line. Feel the bump and reel down to the fish and put a bend in the pole.
I like to release any sheepshead under 15 inches due to the lack of meat in the smaller ones.
Wintertime fishing can produce some sizzling action. You just need to adjust your fishing techniques to the season.
Capt. Mark Howard
SumoTime Fishing Charters
I just can’t get over how great the weather has been for January. The fishing, on the other hand, has been hit or miss from one day to another.
For me, the flats fishing has slowed down a bit this week with just a few flounder and some small trout caught on Saturday. We ran across some nice redfish in Miguel Bay and tried to get them to feed using white bait and live shrimp with no takers.
The rest of the week I have been fishing the river with mixed results. On Monday, I had the pleasure of fishing with Al Eldon of Bradenton and his crew. We worked the Interstate 75 bridge most of the day and caught sheepshead ranging from 10 to 15 inches, mangrove snapper ranging from 8 to 15 inches, a few small trout and a nice pompano. This is not to mention the many ladyfish that also loved the shrimp we were feeding them.
I tried to keep a count of fish caught and released, losing the battle at around 48. For those of you looking for white bait, the Skyway bridge is still holding bait. You just need to be there at the right time, and the cut from the Manatee River into Terra Ceia Bay has some nice shiners holding up there. Till next week, be safe out there.
Capt. Arthur Weaver
Tripletail fishing is what I had on the agenda for this past weekend. On Saturday morning, I went on a scouting trip to see if these fish were still hanging on the crab pot floats. Because stone crab is still in season there are plenty of crab pot floats up and down the beaches here in Sarasota County.
Saturday started out a little slow. With a breezy south wind, the Gulf of Mexico had a pretty good chop on it, which made conditions for fishing these crab floats a challenge. After several casts to a half dozen tripletail, I finally had one eat a DOA Gold glitter shrimp. Mission accomplished!
Tony Paul, from Venice, fished with me Sunday. Weather conditions were a lot nicer than on Saturday. Running a line of crab pots from Big Pass in Sarasota to south of the Venice Inlet, we were on the lookout for tripletail.
Once we hit Venice Inlet, we ran in to multiple schools of false albacore, aka bonita. We caught and released five fish using DOA CAL shad tail jigs and broke two more albies off on the fly rod. Heading back to Sarasota, we spotted a tripletail under a crab float. After several casts with a DOA gold glitter shrimp, Tony caught his first tripletail.
Capt. Andy A. Cotton