Capt. Josh Fritz, 352-345-9304: Capt. Josh says water temperatures this week are down dramatically following the weekend cold front. Heading out to the shallow grouper rocks Monday morning, he saw surface temperatures as low as 59 degrees. That’s a more than 10 degree drop from a week ago, so the fish have been knocked for a loop and it may take a couple of days of sunshine for them to bounce back. Inshore anglers should look to the creeks and creek mouths for their fish. Inshore, the sun will warm limestone bottom and keep water temperatures around the rock warmer, so those will be good places find reds and trout, as well as a possible black drum. The dark-bottom mud flats also absorb and lot of the sun’s heat, so those areas are another good place to work.
Tackle shop roundup
Armed Anglers, 727-945-1808: Capt. Griff says about the only game in town right now is the warm water exiting the Anclote power plant outfall canal. Anglers have been doing well on pompano, with waders working the channel exiting the canal doing best. Pompano jigs tipped with shrimp are a good choice. There also are a few reds being taken at the plant, but anglers fishing the Gulf Harbors canals are picking up a few, as well. Offshore fishing slowed to a stop over the weekend with the poor weather, but anglers just prior to the front reported keeper gags in 32 feet of water west of Anclote. There are plenty of grunts and sea bass over rock bottom offshore. A few schoolie kings have been taken, though the bite has not developed as hoped. Lots of school Spanish mackerel are inshore over the grass and over the artificial reefs off Pasco and Tarpon Springs.
Cooper’s Shrimp Shack, 727-868-8736: Bill says all the action is in the canals. The cold front over the weekend dropped water temperatures, and fish have been moving into backwaters for warmth. Reds and trout have been in deeper sections. Mangrove snapper and sheepshead have been there with them. A few snook are holed up in Hudson canals, though the ones being spotted have been small.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, 727-842-5610: Joe reports anglers at the Anclote power plant have been doing well on pompano and jacks. They’ve also bagged a few Spanish mackerel there, which have been on the open grass flats off the outfall all the way out to Anclote Key. Many anglers have been fishing in their backyard canals following the cold front, as fish have moved in for warmth. Live shrimp is tops when the water is cold. The canals in Gulf Harbors are holding some juvenile tarpon, another species likely to jump on live shrimp right now.
The Tackle Box, 727-819-3783: Buck says the weather has cut into everyone’s fishing, so wait for a little sunshine and calm days to see better fishing. The Reef Chief offshore boat, out of Port Richey, has been doing OK on gag grouper and there are Spanish mackerel all over hard bottom offshore. Kingfish have been a bit spotty this season. The most recent King of the Beach tournament saw a 36-pound fish win. A fish that size wouldn’t place in the top 10 ordinarily. The fish that took the tourney in spring was better than 60 pounds. Inshore anglers should head to the backwaters for reds, trout and snook, all of which will be seeking warmer water.
J&J Bait and Tackle II, 727-940-7928: James reports anglers stayed home over the weekend due to wind and cold weather. There are a few anglers doing well on pompano at the Anclote power plant outfall canal, where trout, ladyfish and jacks are being caught. It’s live shrimp time no matter where you fish. Offshore anglers have not been out since the cold moved in, though it’s likely there still are plenty of schooling Spanish mackerel around over hard bottom.
Tarpon Trading Company, 727-937-1488: Larry says anglers were finding some nice snook around the bridges on the Fred Howard Park causeway, in Tarpon Springs, before the weekend cold front. It’s anyone’s guess where the snook will be now that water temperatures have crashed, but the hunt most likely will resume in the creeks, canals and back bayous where the water is a bit warmer. The Anclote power plant is producing a few pompano for angler fishing live shrimp. The last offshore boat reporting found some schooling kings in 25 feet of water northwest of Three Rooker Bar. Another was taking keeper-sized gag grouper in 70 feet of water on hard bottom.