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Florida West Coast Fishing Report Tampa Bay/Bradenton
Fishing Report -
January 28, 2003
With water temps hovering around the mid
50's, this is the time of year that I choose to leave the "gamefish"
species alone, leave a little later in the morning when
there's some sun heating us up and target sheepshead and
mangrove snapper around manmade or natural structure. It's
often challenging because these fish know where their hidey
hole is and once hooked, run right into it to try to cut you
off. This past week I accompanied Pat Adams from Bay Colony
in Palmetto on her boat, leaving the dock at about 10:30am.
She wanted to learn more about the Terra Ceia Bay waters
and didn't know about a pile of the old Skyway Bridge
material that holds lots of sheepshead and snapper. As
usual for winter, the shrimp were a bit on the small side
but that's the good thing because sheepshead and snapper
only need a tid bit to tempt them. I chose to use a 3/0
gold hook and a #4 split shot. Should I end up getting
snagged, the split shot could break loose or the hook bend
just enough for me to come free of the debris without
breaking my line to 20# fluorocarbon leader. We didn't get
into any of the 6 pounder sheepshead that lurk there but we
got some nice 3 pounders. The snapper were just above legal
and we even caught some juvenile gag grouper. Ed Goulder of
Cleveland and I met around noon-ish and fished the limestone
edges of the ICW along Siesta Key and caught sheepshead and
snapper also using live shrimp. Both days were somewhat
windy but the sheltered areas still enabled us to get out
and go fishing without being too uncomfortable.
Other fishing options around the New Pass Bridge and Radio
Tower holes would be bluefish, jacks and of course the good
old standby, ladyfish. All of these fish would willingly
take artificials. If at first you don't hook up, either work
your jig more slowly and deeper or move around a bit finding
the drop offs.
I happened to be driving around on Friday looking for any
signs of stressed or even dead snook around the Manatee
River, Warners Bayou and Palma Sola Bay but can state that
there were none I saw that were dead. A few fish were
holding in the lee of the wind and in sunny spots above
darker bottom and not moving. In Palma Sola near that
neighborhood's marina, I bumped into Howard Wells of the
Snook Foundation and a couple of his volunteers doing the
same thing. One of the young men with him had just released
a 24" snook that took and artificial bait cast into the
middle of the basin. We were pleased to see it wasn't
stressed and it was hungry. We'll just have to hope more
like it found warm enough water to get them through this
long cold spell.
Get out and go fishing, it's good for you,
Capt. Merrily Dunn
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