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Winter Fishing in Tampa Bay

It is not commonly known that Tampa Bay provides excellent redfish sport in the dead of winter.  Many know about the excellent fishing in spring, but outside the locals the bay’s winter bonanza is relatively unknown.

Tampa Bay still has large stretches of mangroves and the flats adjacent provide year round habitat for redfish, snook and sea trout.  Juvenile fish winter over in the bay with most prevalent species being redfish.  The fish average 4-8 pounds but stumbling upon larger schools of fish is not unheard of.

Sight fishing is a rare gem of a day with calm waters and sunshine.  However with the sun low in the winter sky, opportunities are fleeting.

Most of the time stalking tailing fish in less then a foot of water is your best bet.  Kayaking or canoeing for the do-it-yourselfer in the appropriate depth of water until the fish is spotted provides an excellent experience.  Delicate presentations are a must near the nose.  If the fish are moving place your fly six feet out to avoid spooking them.

Plan your trip from two hours before posted low tide to two hours after gives you the best chances of hooking up.

Six weight rods work best on calm days, affording delicate casts and presentations.  Up to twelve foot of tapered leaders are necessary during calm also.  Heavier rods and shorter leaders are helpful if cutting through the wind and choppy water.

Clousers and Deceivers as well as Gummy Minnows all are good fly choices.