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Tampa Bay Fishing, Fishing report from Capt. Thom Smith
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Capt. Thom Smith
Posted: Dec 4 2005, 10:03 PM



DECEMBER 1, 2005


It looks like Winter may be here to stay for a while. Cold fronts are begining to push down from the North on a regular basis cooling both air and water temperatures. Bait fish are disappearing off of the flats and game fish like Snook, Trout, and Redfish are making the move to deeper, warmer waters. As I've mentioned over the years, Snook are most effected by the cold. Their metabolism slows way down and they exert very little energy during the winter months. Right now they are still feeding but with the cool mornings that we've been experiencing lately, they will soon hunker down in a more comfortable place for the winter. Redfish action has picked up over the past week, especially in the Terra Ceia Miguel and Joe's Bay areas. Spotted sea trout are still "catch and release" until January 1st. Flounder have perked up some over hard bottom, mixed with shell and sand type areas.

Another thing that I've been doing the past few years is targeting grouper during the cooler months. I'm talking about about gag grouper in the back bays and some of the hard bottom areas in Tampa Bay. Areas I'm targeting are usually in less than 10 feet of water, and maybe not what you would ususally consider grouper country but over the years I've caught keeper grouper during different months of the year. Sometimes they can be frustrating but they can be caught in a couple of different ways. I prefer to fish them with light tackle, basically flats rods with artificial baits that I can cast beyond the area I want to fish and work a Mister Twiser Rt SLV6 or spoon through the target area. As you are retreiving your lure past them, they will come up and chase it! The idea is once they strike you, try to keep them coming in your direction so they can't get back into the rocks. Ocasionally you will hook into a fish that you just can't control with the light tackle! Ocasionally I will use a plug of some sort like a Mirro Lure or Yo- zuri that will get down to their level, but the idea of losing an $8.00 to $11.00 lure to a fish that might take it away from you, makes you think twice! Another way I approach these fish is with Live bait like pinfish, whitebait, or Shrimp. The drawback to this technique is you need heavier tackle to muscle them out of their house!

The areas I'm talking about are not like the offshore reefs, there may be a small ledge of some sort in a few spots but for the most part the bottom is mostly hard rock with rubble, soft and hard coral, sponges and sometimes sargasso weed growing on the bottom. It may not be much but somehow they seem to find a way to hold up in it! That's why I would rather fish a bait that is moving than one that's tossed to them that they can eat and just stick their head in a hole and be dificult to pull out.

Conditions are changing but no matter what time of the year it is, my plan is flexible. If one thing isn't working, go to plan B. I wouldn't spend all day trying to catch a grouper if they were not cooperating, so I would try something else. Taking into consideration that the flats are cooling off, bait are disappearing. There may not be any fish on the flats! I would target docks. Sheepshead are already in full swing and just about any dock in a decent amount of water will hold fish. I look for the older seasoned docks, ones with oyster or barnacle buildup on them to target. The deeper the dock, the better chance that there may be more than just sheepshead under it. Redfish, mangrove snapper, and flounder will also use the structure for both comfort and feeding station.

In my next article, I'll try to provide some ideas about what to buy the anglers in the family for Christmas. Remember, a Gift Certificate for a "Guided trip" is a great gift. All Guides have these. Here's a beautiful redfish caught lately with Capt. Thom.


REMEMBER JOIN ME EVERY THURSDAY ON 1490AM FOR "ON THE WATER WITH CAPT. THOM" from 6-7PM. You can call at 941-745-1490 if you have comments or a question. OR CALL ME AT THE SHOP!!
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