Large seatrout remain the primary target species off of the west central coast of Florida. Veteran Clearwater Area fishing guides expect limits on every trip this time of year and, at times, 20 to 30 large trout can be caught on a 4 hour trip. That said, a cold front can stop fishing in its tracks. The best approach is to plan to fish strong tides and pray for good weather. If the expectation is that weather has created a significant drop in water temp, wait three days and if the weather has continued to moderate each day, the bite will be back on. The days immediately proceeding a cold front can be just watch the weather.

BIG Seatrout in Clearwater

Redfish remain a winter target as well but with daytime water levels generally lower, residential docks, intercostal islands and oyster bars become better locations to try. Although cut baits are a preferred summer-time bait, shrimp are the best at this time of year as many of the fish are smaller and these fish will always eat a shrimp. Working the above mentioned areas will also lead to an occasional quality fish as well although many larger fish seem to re-appear in mid to late February. 

Winter Fishing In Tampa

Although activity off the beach is nothing like the spring or fall time frames, rocky areas will still hold some decent snapper and these fish can be coaxed into biting. Whitebait, if available, small pinfish and shrimp will all produce.  Go light and long on the leaders and use smaller hooks to put a few of these tasty fish in the boat. Plan on bringing a chum block or extra baits to get the bite going. Small grouper and key west grunts will also be part of the mix.  Although gag grouper is closed, a good meal came be made from the larger grunts and snapper. Good luck and good fishing.


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