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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tips For Crowded Holiday Fishing in Tampa Bay–Capt. Ray Markham

by on Dec.25, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Every year I try to leave time around the holidays open for some things I want to do, and to get caught up on the others I never seem to have time for, but inevitably, there are folks who come in town on vacation, see how nice the weather is, and suddenly think….”let’s go fishing!” Well, the onslaught of calls is underway, and at times I take some unplanned trips, but the truth is, it can get mighty crowded on the water during the holidays. With the weather at record high temperatures on these beautiful days, the desire to go bend a rod is even stronger.

Fishing has been outstanding, and the full moon that pops up tonight on this Christmas night will create some strong tides that will undoubtedly make fish eat. Water temperature is very warm for this time of year and there is still plenty of baitfish in the bay. Red tide is spotty and is only affecting certain areas of the lower bay. Snook season is closed but run up any of the rivers, like the Alafia, Little Manatee, Manatee, Anclote, or most any of the deeper creeks and you’ll find a load of snook that are in the process of moving toward their winter haunts. Live shrimp or artificial shrimp like the DOA work exceptionally well. Whitebait, greenies, and pinfish for the natural bait users will get the job done as well. While it’s only catch and release for these fish right now, they will give you a lot of action and can be released with little or low mortality when handled minimally and released correctly.

Redfish have been blowing up topwater MirrOlures in the upper bay area. Portions of the flats around Rocky Creek and Double Branch all the way to Safety Harbor have been holding schools of upper-slot redfish. We’ve been nailing them on CAL Jigs with the 3-inch Shad tail in all colors that contain night glow. The Eppinger Rex weedless spoon has also been deadly on these reds and is especially good when there is a presence of small pinfish on a flat.

Flounder action around the mouth of Tampa Bay seems to have picked back up as the red tide moves away from the area. Good action with some nice sized flatties is to be had for anglers working the nearshore artificial reefs just off the coast of Pinellas.

Kingfish and Spanish mackerel are still out around Egmont Key Shipping Channel for anglers looking to troll up some fish for the smoker.

Regardless of what you want to target, look for some company on the water and remember to keep your distance from other anglers and respect their space, and they will respect yours. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Capt. Ray Markham specializes in fly and light tackle fishing with artificial lures, charters out of the Tampa Bay area, and may be reached via his website at www.CaptainRayMarkham.com, email at ray.markham@gmail.com, or at (941) 723-2655 for charter.

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