It was another windy week, cutting into the action by keeping many anglers off the water.
Offshore reports were few, as were those for the open flats. Those anglers who did get out chose to tuck out of the wind by working backwater bayous, canals, creeks and rivers. Fortunately, it is the time of year when fish start to pack up in these areas.
The snook have made a strong move to the rivers, says Capt. Griff at Anclote Bait and Tackle. Fish are not in a full-blown river pattern just yet, but they are working toward it. The Anclote River has been giving up some nice fish, and the snook are working farther up the river each week. The canals and creek are coming alive with redfish, trout, sheepshead and mangrove snapper, says John at One Stop Bait and Tackle. It’s easy fishing with live shrimp. Find the rocks and you will find the snapper and sheepshead. Work the docks for reds and trout. Don’t be surprised if you tangle with a snook in the process.
Don’t rule out hitting the piers down south. If the wind rules out boating, fishing the downwind side of Pier 60, on Clearwater Beach, offers the opportunity to wet a line. The mackerel have been tearing it up the past week, with most anglers limiting out. It’s been much the same at Long Pier, where schools of macks have been giving anglers all they could ask for.
Offshore fishing is anyone’s guess. The winds have kept anglers in for the most, but expect keeper-sized gag grouper to be in as little as 28 feet of water around rocky bottom. A few kings were still being hooked before the blow, but that action may decline sharply over the next couple of weeks.
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Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says hit the Anclote River for reds and snook. Fish are pushing into the river in bigger numbers every day, a pattern that will continue as the water temperatures drop. The rivers and canals are seeing increased numbers of sheepshead, as well, which is another sign winter is on the way. Winds made it tough, but Capt. Griff did get in a flats trip. The mackerel were around Three Rooker Bar, and it isn’t too late in the season for cobia. His crew hooked up a nice fish that nearly spooled them before winning its freedom. Trout are on the grass flats, with the Howard Park area a good place to look.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610: John says mackerel have been on the deep grass flats, and anglers who battled it out with the winds were rewarded with some nice catches. The trout are on the grass, as well, though look for them shallower, in 2 to 5 feet of water. Live shrimp and jigs will get them. The snook are inching their way into the backwaters and rivers, and the residential canals are holding lots of sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Offshore, anglers were reporting some kingfish before the winds picked up last week and kept boats ashore.
Pier 60, (727) 462-6466: The mackerel have been schooling in big numbers around the pier. Anglers have been limiting out, and most of the fish have been good sized. Some nice pompano are showing up in the catches, including some jumbo fish. There have been some large flounder landed, and seabass have moved in. Trout fishing has been good at night, and silver trout are biting day and night on shrimp.
The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398: Tom says the mackerel have been around in good numbers, with many anglers limiting out on them. Pompano are showing up in greater numbers, and some decent redfish have been caught. Trout fishing is good after dark under the lights. The odd kingfish is being taken off the end of the pier at Redington Shores, but the action is tapering off.
Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.