Clearwater Fishing has been good between the fronts. Lots of trout as expected this time of year. Live shrimp has been my main bait of choice but certainly a variety of artificials have worked well also. Any jerkworms or smaller patterns that mimic the color and shape of shrimp have been best. Slowly retrieving along the bottom, with an occasional hop or two will usually get a strike if a trout is nearby. Sometime I’ll use the artificial to find a group of fish and then concentrate live shrimp in that area. They are ranging from 16 to 24 inches.
After catching the trout, we’ll move to redfishing. Docks have been holding high numbers of small reds. Cut pieces of shrimps can get bitten quickly if the fish are there. If no bites come within the first 10 minutes or so, it’s on to the next dock. Some potholes on the flats have held some bigger fish. Focusing on the mullet schools will usually result in a redfish or two. Snook are being caught every once in a while, if the conditions are just right and usually in the backcountry canals. All in all, it has been pretty good although cold fronts and winds will be coming every 5 – 7 days over the next month or so. Getting out in between and catching some fish is always the name of the game in January.


Cold fronts and high winds are typical for this time of year. About every 5 to 7 days there is some type of weather event. For those brave enough to venture out, finding protection from the elements is always the challenge. The backwaters will be the most productive, far into the residential canals, bays, creeks and rivers. Live shrimp worked slowly around docks and edges of oyster bars will often result in redfish, sheepshead, flounder or trout. Snook are a little less likely to eat when the water temperatures drop quickly, but not impossible. Artificial jigs resembling live shrimp worked along the bottom will also be productive. The key is to move the bait slowly, mimicking the action of a live shrimp. The drop offs are always the best areas to target. Most predator fish ambush their food, so edges provide the sneak attack they prefer. Overhanging mangroves are also worth investigating as they offer cover for several species to hide. As the winds lay down, the islands from Clearwater to Palm Harbor, will once again provide lots of action with trout and pompano. The water is likely to be dirty for a couple of days so moving around to find clear waters will be necessary for the best action. Live shrimp under a float in the shallow waters works best, but if you are exploring the deeper water from 6 – 8 feet, freeline the shrimp to reach the bottom.


The recent cool front has affected the water temperature dropping it a few degrees quickly. However, the weather this week is stable and the water temps are rebounding. Initially, fish will shut down until they acclimate to the cooler water. I have been kingfishing and mackerel fishing during the weaker, lower tidal phases. Bait has been plentiful offshore, making it easy to locate kingfish and spanish mackerel. Slow trolling threadfin herring works great for locating a few fish. Once we get bites I may anchor up in the area and start chumming, bringing the fish to the boat. 30 to 40 pound wire is a must to prevent frequent break offs. This time of year often brings a migration of trout to St. Joseph Sound in North Pinellas. There are a few showing up and it should get better as the cold fronts continue to occur. The spoil islands are the usual targets for anglers, although the shallow flats to the east will often hold the larger female trout also. Plastic jigs rigged on a 1/8 ounce jighead works great for locating fish. Currently, sardines are the favored bait until deeper in winter when their focus will be on live shrimp or slow working jigs near the bottom. Snook and small redfish are gathering around some of the islands along with the trout. The drop offs where the darker grass meets the sand are good transitions, allowing the predator fish to ambush baits that are easily exposed when over the light sandy areas.

So that’s what’s happening out here! Please book your day of fishing now! Call me at 727-365-7560 or email me soon! I can’t wait to hear from you all! Capt. Brian