January has provided anglers with favorable conditions for fly fishing in Tampa bay and along west central Florida. With water temperatures maintaining around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, both redfish and spotted sea trout have been active targets. We have been employing different tactics to target these two primary species due to their distinct behaviors.

Sight fishing has been the key strategy for targeting redfish during January. Anglers will have success by quietly poling or wading along flats, targeting shallow grass flats where redfish are known to tail or cruise. Using crab or shrimp patterns, presented with precision and delicacy, are the best choice during the winter months. Flies tied on hooks no larger than a #2 tend to “match the hatch” perfectly during the next couple of months. The big winter low tides happen on both moon phases and present an opportunity where the fish are congested into depressions on or adjacent to the flat. Staking out next to these depressions and/or positioning in between where the fish transition to, will produce the best results. Any time we can allow the fish to make the approach is ideal as they’re always on guard, prioritizing safety.

For targeting spotted sea trout in January, anglers have shifted their focus to blind casting into deeper holes and channels. As temperatures drop, all fish, including spotted sea trout tend to seek refuge in deeper waters, making blind casting an effective method for enticing strikes. Fly anglers can get away with using a long full fluorocarbon leader paired with a weighted baitfish or shrimp pattern to reach the desired depths where trout are congregating. Staking out and methodically working channels and drop-offs, and presenting flies near structure such as oyster beds or grass beds, has proven successful in enticing strikes from hungry sea trout.

January has offered fly anglers rewarding opportunities along coastal waters, with redfish and spotted sea trout being the primary targets. Adapting tactics to the behaviors of each species has been crucial for success, with sight fishing for redfish and blind casting for sea trout proving effective. As always, remember to practice responsible angling, respect the environment, and release fish responsibly to ensure sustainable fisheries for future generations!


West Central Florida Restorative

Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.

West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.

The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.

Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.