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

January 2021 Fishing Forecast
SouthShore Tampa Bay
Capt. Danny Guarino

Wow, 2021, and a very Happy New Year to all. I do hope 2021 brings you all good health. We are all hoping the nice weather and the excellent fishing of December will continue. Winter in Florida can bring cold (for us Floridians) and windy weather; both can be detrimental to fishing Tampa Bay. Follow a few key rules, and you can improve your catch ratio throughout the winter months. Slow down your presentation, both with artificial and natural baits.

  1. When fish are cold, they do not seem to want to chase their food down, particularly right after a cold front when water temperatures drop rapidly. It takes a bit of time for fish to acclimate to the temperature change.
  2. 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 next cold front passage. When a cold front passes, the fish seem to feed less. This, due to barometric pressure changes that will affect fish and their feeding pattern.
  3. Chang up to artificial baits. Sometimes when fish are not feeding, an artificial bait might generate a reactionary strike. A reactionary strike is when a fish strikes at a lure not because it’s hungry but because it feels threatened.

December brought us some good catch reports of trout, snook, and redfish from all points of Tampa Bay fishing. I would expect January to follow suit.

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 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, and it just might help generate those reactionary strikes I spoke of earlier.

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 warm water run-offs. Look in deeper spots that hold warmth as the surface water cools. Live bait seems to be the ticket, and a good-sized greenback is like tossing candy to a baby. If you catch a snook, please handle them with care as the season is closed, and all will have to be returned to the water.

January is the month that sheepshead make a big showing. Find structure in deeper water, and most likely, you will find a number of sheepshead 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.” Sheepshead have an exceptionally light bite so be ready.

One of my favorites, this time of year is to target the small blacktip sharks that populate the warm water runoff 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 (greenbacks) suspended under a bobber. You can usually see the shark as it hits the bait. It is fun fishing, but that is what it’s all about.

If you can, get out and enjoy this great place we live in. The Tampa Bay area 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 your fishing success by the number of smiles you receive by going fishing.

Be safe out there.

Capt. Danny Guarino 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 extinctive 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



Photo Credits: Capt. Danny Guarino and a prize gator trout caught off Port Manatee within Tampa Bay. 813-956-2010

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