Capt. Mike Manning, 727-243-8918: Capt. Mike says options are few right now due to the low water temperatures. Until things rebound a bit, which will take a string of warm days, the action is going to be well up the Anclote and Cotee rivers. Snook, reds, and up to where there remains a good level of salinity, trout will be the main targets. Meanwhile, the Anclote power plant is the go-to spot this time of year. Pompano, permit, trout, reds and even some snook are there. They lay near the bottom of the deep outfall canal to stay warm, but when the plant is pumping out warm water, the action heats up. Capt. Mike likes to work the low, incoming tide. Nothing beats live shrimp. It can be frustrating, as the bite can turn off and on like a light switch. He recommends putting in your time, as being there when the fish turn on is the key to success.
Capt. Josh Fritz, 352-345-9304: Capt. Josh says anglers fishing from Hudson north have little recourse but to head into the backwaters, canals and springs up the creeks. Live shrimp fished within a hundred yards of the springs, which are pumping out warm water, is the best chance one has right now of taking reds and trout. Offshore anglers can take advantage of the sheepshead bite on rocky bottom patches in 10 to 12 feet of water. The big breeder fish are preparing for their annual spawn, and the action should be good through February. The fish like live shrimp on the bottom, and some real bruisers can be taken at this time of year.
Tackle shop roundup
Armed Anglers, 727-945-1808: Capt. Griff says anglers have been finding black drum, sheepshead and reds just above the Alt. 19 bridge on the Anclote River. Shrimp fished on the bottom has been tops. The pompano and permit bite has been on and off at the Anclote power plant outfall. On cold mornings when the plant is pumping out warm water, the fish turn on. Trout, reds, drum and even the odd snook have been taken. When the plant isn’t pumping, the action can nearly stop. Offshore anglers have been staying in for the most part, but those going have been limited to fishing rocky bottom for hogfish. Jigs tipped with shrimp have been working best.
J&J Bait and Tackle II, 727-940-7928: J&J Bait and Tackle II, 727-940-7928: James reports anglers have been fishing the Anclote power plant outfall with mixed success. There are times when the pompano and permit are biting well, with some reds and even a snook or two being caught. Silver trout have been a good bet along the Intracoastal Waterway and over the deep cut at the north end of Anclote Key. Prior to the weekend, anglers were finding schooling mackerel on the deep flats north and south of Anclote Key. Shrimp on or near the bottom has been working. The farther up the Anclote River one goes, the better the odds of tangling with a snook, but there also are reds and drum there, especially above the U.S. 19 bridge.
Tarpon Trading Company, 727-937-1488: Larry says the cold weather has been a challenge for a lot of anglers. Those diehards still going at it are working the backwaters in deeper pockets, where they are finding trout, sheepshead and jacks. Live shrimp has been king. Anglers fishing Doc’s Jigs at the Anclote power plant outfall have been connecting with pompano and permit. They also are getting some mangrove snapper and trout. The bite has been best on the coldest days when the power plant is pumping out warm water from its cooling towers.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, 727-842-5610: Joe reports anglers were finding plenty of mackerel on the deep flats, around Anclote Key and south to Honeymoon Island, but that was before temperatures dropped over the weekend. He thinks we may need a few days of warm weather and sunny days to bring things back around. The snook are well into the back country and up the rivers. You won’t have to go as far back for reds and trout, and many residential canals are holding them now. Deeper pockets and along seawalls fished with live shrimp is best. Silver trout don’t mind cold water, and those fishing sand and hard bottom in 15 feet of water from Anclote Key south to Dunedin have been finding plenty. Live or frozen shrimp will take them. The Anclote power plant outfall is producing a mixed bag of permit, pompano, trout, reds and the odd snook. Waders working the channel just off the canal have been doing well with live shrimp.