BRRRRRR!! After 4 mornings in a row with temperatures in the 30's to 40's, the logical question is "What happens to the fish".  Maybe the better question is "When do they bite again". Seatrout and redfish are certainly among the more tolerant species when it comes to water temperature change but initial drops of 8 - 10 degrees in water temp will definitely shut off the bite. After a typical cold front, it's usually 2 - 3 days before the fish come around.  In this particular case, it might be 4. It's not only the temperature drop that slows the bite.  When water temps drop into the 40's, it will actually just slow these fish down to the point where food is less interesting to them. With that said, fish will adjust to a "new normal" as far as temperatures are concerned. So where a fish in 60 degree water will not eat when the temperatures immediately drop to 52 overnight, these fish will eat a few days later at that lower temperature. With water temperatures now approaching 50 degrees, these fish should begin to bite again as forecasts are in the 70's for the next few days.

Trout, Snook, Redfish and Pompano

The best opportunity remains to be seatrout, as it typical for this time of year.  Scattered smaller redfish can be found on oyster bars and along some shoreline docks but expect to have to work numerous locations to be successful. Medium to large shrimp are a great bait for redfish this time of year for 2 reasons.  First, shrimp is a favorite meal of redfish.  Second, smaller redfish...16 - 20 inch fish...are most abundant this time of year and where, sometimes, these smaller reds won't eat a chunk bait, they'll gladly eat a shrimp. If fishing a spot where fish are generally around, break up  two or three shrimp and throw them as chum to motivate the fish to eat more quickly.

Snook represent a very infrequent catch during the winter season as these fish hate cold water.  Expect that the recent cold chased many fish to deeper waters and probably even killed a few. When waters warm back into the high sixties and whitebait becomes available again (which could happen quickly), catching a stray snook in the winter again becomes a possibility.  Most Tampa Fishing Charters who run on the gulf side pretty much take snook off the target list until March.  Other species will mix in with the trout, such as bluefish, pompano and ladyfish. All pull pretty well but the pompano is usually the only one kept for eating purposes.

Big St Joseph's Sound Seatrout

Looking out into the coming week, local weather looks like it will begin acting normally again, with mid day temperatures in the 70's. With a little luck, this recent cold has pushed a whole new crop of trout into St Joseph's Sound and the bite will be in full swing. There have been several recent Tampa Fishing Charters where over 20 large trout have been landed and there should be more to come. Whitebait will tolerate water in the low to mid sixties so the hope is that it will return shortly. Big trout will prefer these baits even over large shrimp, so once it's around, the effort to catch it is usually rewarded. Ironically, when waters are cold, the best bait may be a plastic swim bait.  On a recent charter with both anglers pitching plastic swim tails, 20 large trout were caught on a 4 hour trip without a shrimp ever being put in the water.

Good luck and good fishing.



twitter share



Trip Advisor Tampa Fishing Charters

Fishing Report Sign Up

Sign up for the Tampa Fishing Charters newsletter. Stay informed of the latest Tampa fishing news, photos, and updates.

Fishing Report Sign Up

© 2016 Captain Stewart Ames, Gone Fishing Charters, Tampa, FL


© 2023 Tampa Fishing Charters