Tampa Fishing Reports

2021 December Tampa Fishing report

Could water temperatures still be in the 70's in mid December? Historically speaking, the answer would be no in every year in recent history, but as of yesterday, December 19th, that's exactly where temperatures were sitting. This has affected several different species.  In and over slot sea trout, the "bread and butter" fish for guides fishing in St Joseph's Sound during the colder months, have barely shown up.  Catches of 20 - 30 fish are common in this fishery on a good day, but finding a half dozen quality fish has been work over the last few weeks.  In late November, temperatures dropped into the sixties, and several groups of fish moved in but the recurring warm water stopped this migration and the fish that were here seemed, at times, dis-interested in eating. This problem should be rectified in the coming week with the approach of a significant cold front. This reset will likely get this great fishery on track for the remainder of the winter.

A benefactor of the recent warmth has been snook.  Fish back in the bayous have enjoyed temperatures reaching 73 degrees mid day... easily warm enough to trigger feeding activity.  These fish are generally located in small groups and aggressive chumming will usually show an angler exactly where fish are located.  The best approach is to hook up a large whitebait and then throw chum.  If a fish boils on a "free" one, rest assured that a cast located on top of this boil will almost always result in a strike from that same fish. On several recent trips, double digit numbers of fish were caught.  Although the size of these specimens doesn't rival the fish of summer, slot fish are a realistic expectation. Most will be smaller however. 

Redfish are also still available although, with the large high tides of summer gone, fishing strategy must change.  Smaller fish may be found on residential docks, with an occasional decent fish showing up.  The best opportunity to catch quality fish is by fishing mullet schools.  This technique takes a fair amount of patience. A spread of cut baits or live pinfish are placed into areas of mullet activity.  Placing as many baits as possible increases the odds of a hook up as this approach is all about coverage.  The faster an angler can cover the mullet school, the faster fish will either be located or the school will be determine to be void of redfish. A third technique would be to fish potholes on the early morning low tides. Finding the right "holes" is, of course, the key.  Find one and it may produce numerous redfish but many holes will be devoid of fish. In summary, although there are still areas that will hold some decent concentrations of fish, overall, there are fewer large fish around.

Another fishery that is still active is mangrove snapper.  Near shore fishing for 1 - 4 lbs fish has been the best in recent history and was still going on as of last week.  The approaching cold front moving in may change this however. Good luck and good fishing.

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