Fishing conditions have certainly changed over the years at this location, a place I have fished since I was a kid. As the tides flip-flop, we get the really low tides early in the morning as opposed to late in the afternoon in the summer. Coupled this with a good north wind that we routinely have in the winter time, and the tides get even lower. There used to be a very pronounced sandbar that ran the entire length of this shoreline; in fact, it ran the entire south shore of Tampa Bay from Apollo Beach to the Skyway Bridge. Whether due to natural erosion or from the numerous storms over the years, this sand bar has slowly disappeared. It was one of my favorite spots to fish in the winter. This sandbar had a trough on either side of it and the fish - especially the redfish - would stack up in this trough, just waiting for the water to get high enough so they could get across and back onto the grass flats. If conditions were right and you knew where the gaps were in this trough, you could have a field day sight casting to redfish.
This was not one of those days. The fish were hard to find early and as the day wore on, the wind picked up. This is usually not a good thing: casting becomes difficult, kayak control becomes difficult, and everything just gets downright difficult. But all was not lost. I was always taught that if you find the mullet you will find the redfish. At least here in Tampa Bay, there will always be some redfish mixed in with the mullet as they stir up the bottom.Today was no exception. Once we found the reds, it was one after another. The bait of choice was a 1/8 oz. chartreuse Slayer Inc. “Predator” jig head on a DOA “C.A.L. Shad Tail” in Golden Bream. This has been my go-to lure during the winter for quite a long time. The fish are keyed in on smaller food prey during the winter, and this bait is just killer. They were not really big reds, mostly in the middle of the slot (18” – 27”), but man I love the way they fight during the winter:lots of head shakes and erratic runs, which are great on light tackle.
After the bite died down on the flats, I thought we might just have enough time to go visit the same creek we went to a couple of trips ago and see if we could entice a snook or two to play. Well, the snook were there, but once again I was punked by these fish. It’s pretty cool to watch them follow a lure, then heartbreaking to see them turn away. I think the only real good way is to throw some live bait at them, but I’m not sure if it’s come to that yet.
With the really mild winter we are having here in Florida, the fishing has been really good. Time to ditch the waders (I don’t know why I had them on, the water isn’t that cold) as they have developed a hole somewhere in the left leg, and get ready for the Boondoggle. I will also start my quest for “The List”. But that will have to wait until next time…