BRRRRR!!! So was this January as cold as it felt? Absolutely! The average temperature range for Tampa in January, per Wikipedia, is 51.2 degrees for a low and 69.5 degrees for a high.  Also, in an average year, there are 4 nights in January where the temperature dips below 40 degrees and 3 days where it passes 80 degrees.  The average temperature range for this January was 48.1 degrees to 67.6 degrees.  There were a whopping 9 nights below 40 degrees and daytime highs didn't reach 80 degrees once. Although this data would not appear to support the theory that our planet is heating up, 2017 was the hottest year on record in Tampa. Go figure. 

Great Winter Trout Fishing in ClearwaterThe net affect of this weather was that all Tampa Fishing Guides got a whole lot more vacation days than planned over the course of the last month. On the coldest days, sheepshead were the only logical target.  Although good to eat, the cold air and limited species selection kept most anglers off the water anyway. For those who ventured out, fishing shrimp or small crabs up under docks or against bridge pilings was the ticket.

There is a silver lining to all of this bad weather news however.  First, the worst is behind us and second, there are plenty of big seatrout out there waiting to be caught as fishing pressure has been incredibly light.  On several recent Tampa Fishing Charters, large trout were caught but both patience and effort were required. Once an area was located that had trout, action was generally not fast.  A fish or two would be caught, then the boat would be repositioned and another fish or two would be caught. As is usually the case, the bite was better on moving water.  With cold temperatures resulting in an absence of whitebait, large shrimp were the go to bait.  Another difficulty created by the weather was that, due to a shortage of small fish, birds were hyper aggressive and would relentlessly attempt to steal the free-lined select shrimp being presented.  A trick used by some Tampa Fishing Guides for minimizing bait loss is to add a slip bobber which holds the bait just off the bottom but also add a small split shot 6 - 12 inches up from the bait so when casting, the bait sinks quickly and is not consumed by a bird. The expectation on most Tampa / Clearwater Fishing Charters is that limits of trout will be secured on every trip.  This should again become reality as February arrives with average temperatures being higher...yes, January is the coldest month. 

Early Spring Redfish in St Joseph's SoundLater in the coming month, tides heights will start to improve.  This, coupled with warming waters, will improve local redfishing.  With fish still wanting to get warmer, look for them around oyster bars on the higher tides as well as up on the flats in areas with potholes during the warmer parts of the day.  Until cold leaves for good, generally around the middle of March, redfish will respond best to crustaceans such as shrimp.  When the warm settles in, they'll eat just about anything.

With the spring season fast approaching, it 's a great time of year to experience the local outdoors.  Interested in seeing animals from the plains of Africa, without the plane fare...go to Safari Wilderness, where safari vehicles will tour 260 acres near Lakeland, Florida. Another great place to view wildlife is Busch Gardens...a great zoo as well as being home to many adrenaline raising rides.  Good luck and good fishing.

 

 

 

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