The sheepshead fishing around bridges, seawalls and docks really begins to pick up this time of year. This fish took a live fiddler crab, though frozen and live shrimp also do the job.

There are times of the year when fishing from shore along the Nature Coast may be a better play. That time begins now.

Nights are cooler and Gulf temperature have fallen dramatically from all the rain and cooling winds of Tropical Storm Nicole, so the coming days should see a big uptick in action in residential canals, creeks, off seawalls and in backwaters for redfish, snook, trout, black drum, mangrove snapper and sheepshead. Live shrimp is the go-to bait, though frozen shrimp works just as well for snapper, sheepshead and drum.

Heading into the weekend, a lot of the freshwater flowing into backwaters from storm drains, retention ponds and spillways will have stopped flowing, the salinity levels rebounding from all the rain and fish are returning to their normal feeding patterns.

Some of the most productive fishing will be for the less-than-glamorous species like sheepshead and snapper. Use live and frozen shrimp fished on the bottom around structure; fiddler crabs are even better. Likely spots to find them starting in Hernando County waters and heading south is in canals in Hernando Beach, at the Bayport and Jenkins Creek piers, as well as the creeks off Bayou Drive behind the Bayport Inn off the road to Pine Island. The seawall at Mary’s Fish Camp is another good bet, though there’s a small fee to fish. It’s also where anglers fishing with cane poles catch their mullet.


As we inch toward winter, more snook begin to move into backwaters, creeks, rivers and canals, where they will wait things out until spring. Many big snook already have moved into the Cotee River, which can be fished from shore in several places, including at Main Street in downtown New Port Richey.

Opportunities in Pasco begin at the bridges over Hammock Creek on Aripeka Road, where the main catches are mangrove snapper, sheepshead and the odd snook, red or trout. Heading south, the canal just north of Sunwest Park starts to produce this time of year. The next stop south is Hudson Beach. Anglers fish off the seawall on the north side, where flounder are a sometime-catch at this time of year. The boardwalk on the south end of the beach is a good fishing spot, with the deeper water and rocks along the boat channel in Gulf and in the canal leading into the launch basin a good place for snapper, sheepshead, reds and sometimes trout.

Brasher Park in Port Richey can be a fishy spot at this time of year, as trout, reds, sheepshead and snapper move into the backwaters there.

There’s fishing at Port Richey Waterfront Park just north of the Cotee River on Millers Bayou, and on the south side of the Cotee River near the bridge on U.S. 19 is the Clark Mallett Memorial Fishing Pier. Some anglers take snapper and sheepshead off the dock at the Nicks Park boat dock next door to Hooters restaurant. Many fish along River Road and at the Main Street Bridge in downtown New Port Richey, where a big snook is always a possibility this time of year.

Key Vista Nature Park at Baileys Bluff offers fishing in the Gulf and along Rocky Creek, which can be very productive into the winter.

The pier and outfall canal at the Anclote Gulf Park is one of the more popular fishing spots, particularly as the Gulf water temperatures drop and many fish species take up residence to enjoy the warm water expelled from the power plant there. There’s fishing on the intake side of the canal, as well, just south at Anclote River Park. Next stop south is the causeway at Fred Howard Park, where the two bridges are where most fish. Reds, snook, trout, snapper, sheepshead, sharks, cobia and mackerel are taken. Some do well at the beach there, fishing off the rock jetties at either end.

Sunset Beach is just a half-mile south, and anglers fish off the beach there, as well as along the short causeway.

Keep in mind that many of these fishing spots have rocks and pilings. While both are one reason fish are attracted to them, they also present a challenge for anglers, as fish can wrap lines and break them. A 20-pound-test mono leader a foot or so is a good idea. A heavier leader is better, though anything more is likely to alert sharp-eyed fish and reduce the number of strikes.