Snook, Trout, Redfish, The Southshore Bite Is on Fire!

January 2020 Fishing Forecast

SouthShore Tampa Bay

By: Capt. Danny Guarino

Can you believe it? We are starting a new decade and I do hope 2020 brings you all good fortune. I think we are all hoping the nice weather and the excellent fishing of December will continue. Winter in Florida can bring cold and windy weather, and both can be detrimental to fishing Tampa Bay. However, as I have stated before, follow a few key rules and you can improve your catch ratio through the winter months. Slowing down your presentation both with artificial and natural baits and pick your day to fish. Picking the days just prior to the passage of a cold front will improve your catch ratio. My rule of thumb is to fish 2 days after the passage of a cold front through just after the passage of the next cold front. When a cold front passes the fish seem to feed less. This, due to barometric pressure changes or lack thereof that effect fish and their feeding pattern.

December brought us some good catch reports coming in from all over Tampa Bay. Capt. Jason Prieto of Ruskin reported catching several Trout over 18 inches while fishing the Southshore, just south of Apollo Beach. I took a charter and fished Cockroach Bay in mid-December and our party landed over 20 snook and 10 redfish, not bad for 4 hours of fishing.

Look for trout in the deeper grass flats and some of the deeper spots of the Manatee and Little Manatee Rivers. Try fishing trout with some of the soft plastic artificial baits. One of my favorites is the DOA shrimp. It works well this time of year because you can fish it very slow just as you do a live shrimp. I also like to tie a DOA shrimp under a Cajon Thunder bobber. The Cajon Thunder is designed to make a rattling noise. That rattle tends to attract fish.

The snook action on the Southshore has been good the entire fall and early wither season. Snook seek out warmer water such as springs, rivers and power plants. Look in deeper spots that hold warmth as the surface water cools. Live bait seems to be the ticket and a good-sized green back is like tossing candy to a baby. If you catch a snook, please handle with care as the season is closed and all will have to be returned to the water.

January is the month that sheephead make a big showing. Find structure in deeper water and most likely you’ll find a number of sheephead hanging around. Shrimp combined with a little weight a # 2 or # 4 hook will do the trick. Remember the old saying “if you feel the bite, it’s too late to set the hook”. Sheephead have a very light bite so be ready.

One of my favorites, this time of year, is to target the small black tip sharks that populate the warm water run off near the area power plants. These sharks are usually between 2 and 3 feet long and provide a good fight on light tackle. I use shrimp or white bait (green backs) suspended under a bobber. You can usually see the shark as it hits the bait. It’s fun fishing, but that’s what it’s all about.

If you can, get out and enjoy this great place we live in. The Southshore has some of the best fishing Florida has to offer but remember it’s not the number of fish you put in the fish box that makes a successful trip. Measure you’re fishing success by the number of smiles you receive by going fishing.

Be safe out there.

Capt. Danny Guarino is a lifelong resident of the Tampa area and semi-retired fishing guide on Tampa Bay. If you are looking to hire a Charter Captain in the Tampa Bay area give Capt. Danny a call. He has an extensive network of long-term proven Tampa Bay Fishing Guides, all are insured and licensed. Let Capt. Danny take the guess work out of finding a fishing guide

You can contact Captain Danny at 813-956-2010 or by email at: SHPOINT@AOL.COM

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