Although winter doesn't officially arrive until December 21st, temperatures over the last few days would indicate otherwise.  Dropping temperatures this time of year trigger a cascade of events in the fishing world. Excluding the brief interruption from Hurricane Eta, nearshore fishing in the Tampa / Clearwater area for kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and bonita has been strong for the last month or so.  With a mild fall, this action can continue well into the month of December.  Although these fish lag well behind grouper and snapper in taste, their size and high speed antics make for exciting fishing days. Prolonged cooler conditions will put an end to this action however. Bait has also been abundant along the beaches making the start to most fishing days over the last month easier than usual.  No chumming, no weeds in the boat...just roll up on the beach, see the bait, throw a few times and go fish. With another cold front arriving this weekend, it is likely that this party....both bait and the near shore action mentioned above...will be over.

 Clearwater Fishing for Mackerel, Bonita and Kingfish

After heading offshore, most Tampa Fishing Charters have returned inshore mid to late morning to take advantage of the remaining redfish and snook action.  These fisheries too will be compromised as the cold settles in.  Over the last month, many trips have produced decent catches of redfish and a smattering of snook.  The snook tend to average smaller than the summer fish...20 - 28 inches, but an occasional 30 inch plus fish shows up. Redfish have been caught most effectively out of mullet schools using cut bait while the snook are being found in the backwaters.  Actively chumming will point out the aggressive fish.

Big Tampa Kingfish Cloe to the beach

The fishery that benefits most from these early winter cold fronts is seatrout.  Some fish have showed up already and many more will arrive as a result of the recent cold. Once the cold breaks and a stretch of warm weather returns, expect to see a significant increase of big trout inside of St Joseph's Sound.  Tampa Fishing Captains know that these fish will go crazy for free-lined pilchards but good catches can be secured fishing select shrimp and jigs as well. Unfortunately, all seatrout, just like redfish and snook, must be released due to the red tide closure that runs until June 1st.  On the bright side, after several years of these restrictions, seatrout action should be ridiculously good and provide great family fishing opportunities...lots of bent rods. 

Inshore fishing for Snook, Trout and Redfish

Need to get outside? Grab a kayak and launch off the Dunedin Causeway.  Go north and paddle into Honeymoon Island State Park. Go south and arrive in Caledesi Island State Park.  Caledesi kayak trails take the paddler under the mangrove canopy, a unique experience. Quality fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities exist in both locations.  Good luck and good fishing.






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