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Now that all the holidays are behind us and most try to get back to
our normal routines with regular work weeks ahead and most in other
areas are shoveling snow and stuck inside the sunshine state provides
some great fishing this month. Trout takes center stage as the big
Gator Trout invade the Grass flats. You will also find a variety of
fish on the reefs from Sheep head to Grunts it’s a good time to fish
in the bay.

Trout fishing is great this time of year as the Gator Trout invades
the flats. You can expect to find some awesome Trout fishing on the
South Shore of Tampa Bay. Finding the big girls is not all that hard,
just find the healthy turtle grass with good tidal flow or deeper
areas with oyster bottom and the big Trout will not be far behind. As
for tackle I love throwing artificial baits this time of year, one of
my favorite Trout baits has to be the Zman Pearl white Minnowz rigged
with a 1/8 ounce Jig head. This bait is relatively easy to use and
will produce a ton of fish.

Sheep head is another great option and is commonly over looked by most
anglers. They are one of the best fighting fish around and during the
months of January and February they show up around the artificial
reefs to spawn. Sheep head are somewhat different in both their
apperance and what they eat. They like to eat barnacles from pilings
which are a little hard to find as bait. I like to use small shrimp
with a Daiichii #1 circle hook. Add the adequate amount of weight to
get your baits to the bottom. Sheep head have a VERY soft bite so you
will go through a bunch of bait until you find the perfect hook set.
Trust me it will take a little practice. Areas to target will be any
type of structure or reef. Artificial reefs are great starting points
and numbers are on the internet. These same areas are typically fished
hard by others so you probably won’t find the big fish here. Finding
your own secret ledge that holds fish will be the key to catching BIG
Sheep head. Best of all unless you give someone the numbers it’s all
yours to fish by yourself. Once you have figured out how to fish
Sheep head you will soon be hooked on catching the Zebra looking great
tasting fish.

Redfish are also plentiful this time of year. I typically find great
success around the residential docks, Creeks, and deeper oyster bars
this time of year. Shrimp is my favorite bait when targeting Reds in
the winter. Using a Free lined or split shot for added weight will be
the best Technique for Redfish. Keep in mind Redfish love crustaceans
and pick up on the scent so soaking alive or dead shrimp on the bottom
will work great. This is also very effective when water temperatures
are low on the colder days. You will catch a lot of smaller fish this
time of year but with patience you will find the bigger ones move
through as well. Tight Lines!

Captain Jason Prieto is a native resident of Tampa and has fished
Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters for the past 20 years. He is
owner and operator of Steady Action Fishing Charters which is based
out of lower Tampa Bay. To book a charter, you can reach him at
813-727-9890 or If you would like
to catch him on the internet tune into Tampa Fishing Outfitters
Fishing Show On Facebook live and You tube from 6 to 7Pm every
Wednesday evening Come join us in the fun..