Fishing this month has been as up and down just like the weather. One day, it’s a high of 60F, the next in the 70’s, which effects the fish and their activity just like it does ours! The first day or two after the front when the wind is blowing 15 knots out of the north, the skies are blue and there is a high pressure on top of us can provide some of the best sight fishing conditions we get all winter. It always seems like a constant battle for visibility, so the approach on your flat and where you are in the tide can be the difference between seeing fish and staring at nothing. During our winter solstice, the sun tilts to the south, always giving us the best visibility looking north. When coordinating this, figure out where the sun is in the sky or determine where you are in your day and that will dictate whether you work east or west. In the morning, it’s best for boats to work west with the sun at your back and east in the afternoon. It’s not the biggest bay, so lets all be courteous of each other out there!
Redfish have been absolutely on fire with a properly presented fly. The selection inside of Tampa bay has been more important in the upper bay where there is a very sparse shoal grass and mostly a sand bottom. Fly rod anglers should use flies no bigger than a #2 and try to use lightly weighted patterns that make minimal noise when entering the water. Crab patterns and mantis shrimp imitations are my favorite but typically it’s one or the other. With an extra slow strip, it should get annihilated when presented perfectly. In the southern parts of Tampa bay, Fort Desoto, and up to Tarpon Springs where there is more turtle grass, we see more forage and I like to use Puglisi patterns that land quietly in front of fish.
Jack Crevalle have been an amazing bonus this winter during the “warming trends” we get all winter. After a few days of warmth, they have been coming out of the power plants and deep water canal systems to come out and feed. While targeting redfish, it’s a great bonus to catch one of these speedsters.
Being patient is the biggest part to being successful this time of year. The water is cleaner than normal which mean that they can SEE and FEEL us too! Positioning your boat in between the fish and there destination, waiting for them to make the approach, and staying quiet increases your chances for success dramatically.