Evinrude E-NATION, for those dedicated to water, power, fishing and fun
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-30-2014

Florida West Coast Winter Fishing Report

[ Edited ]

Hello E-Nation Anglers,


  I hope the new year is treating everyone well. I have been busy fishing in Costa Rica and now prefishing Tampa Bay for some upcoming tournaments. We are lucky in here in Florida not to have to worry about shoveling snow, winterizing our engines, having our favorite fishing hole covered in ice, etc  BUT that doesn't mean we do not have to adapt to different fishing patterns this time of year.


   Here are a few tips to have a succesful day on the water for the next couple months. The weather patterns here are much different than Summer patterns we experience. Instead of our typical afternoon thunderstorm we face cold fronts (called cool fronts by our visiting snowbirds) that can last 4 or 5 days. The fish react to, and actually can feel when these fronts are coming.


  Keep an eye on weather forecasts and if possible get out there a day or 2 ahead of the front. You will be treated to feeding fish looking to fill up before the cold water slows their metabolism. What this means for both inshore and offshore fishing is SLOW DOWN your fishing techniques. The fish are less willing to chase down frisky live baits this time of year. If you are offshore bottom fishing, try using dead or cut bait instead of live pinfish. If you are inshore using artificial lures try slowing down your retrieve. Let the lure sink all the way to the bottom and retrieve at about half the speed you normall do. You will be rewarded with more bites.


  Also, use the winter time low tides to your advantage. The tides along with strong north winds will produce negative low tides, the lowest we see all year. Don't be afraid to go out at the lowest tide and find new spots. Of course in most areas this will mean getting out of your boat and wading to find fish. But it allows you to see exposed bottom and learn new areas, where the exact drop offs, troughs and holes are. If you can get to some of these holes it is like fishing in a swimming pool. Again, keep your retrieve slow.


  We are seeing the biggest trout in a long time in the Tampa Bay area. Many trips are leading to multiple fish over 20 inches and some pushing the 28 inch mark. I prefer using artificials right now, root beer, dark red and brown colors are producing the best. Downsize your leader to 15 and even 10lb test. Look for deeper holes surrounded by grass beds.


   Some bonus fish to fishing slower and closer to the bottom is flounder. We are catching many flounder pushing 5lbs. Use the same lures but make sure you are directly hitting the bottom to catch these doormats. My wife caught this 26 inch flattie on a root beer jig in about 4 feet of water and landed us on the cover of Onshore Offshore magazine.


   The redfish bite remains hot here in Tampa Bay and if you bundle up and wade to some drop offs you should find the fish schooled up.


  Remember, keep everyhing slow and you will catch more fish until the water hits the magical 72 degree mark. That should be sometime around late March to April and when that happens the waters explode with life and we will start targeting everything from tarpon to kingfish. Our boat is currently being rigged with the new G2 and I am excited for the next report showing the latest catches that Evinrude leads us to!


Here is a quick shot of the amazing action we had in Costa Rica. For the first time in my life we lost count of how many sailfish we caught in 1 day.  Until next time, tight lines and smooth seas!



-Capt. Ryan Harrington

Evinrude Ambassador/Pro Staff