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Inshore report: Sea bass, trout move to top of anglers' lists
By Dave Walker, Times correspondent
Published December 21, 2007
Angling excursions can be stellar or miserable in the midst of winter. Drastic weather changes, fickle fish, and cold conditions make this one of the most challenging times of the year. Many anglers get frustrated with the tempo or the lack of activity.
The winter blues can be combated by targeting fish that are resilient to the cold weather.
Black sea bass, a fish that does not mind the chill, will cooperate throughout the winter.
The most popular method for catching rock bass is to use cut squid or live shrimp. We use soft-plastic jigs tipped with either a small strip of squid or a fingernail-sized pinch of shrimp. The jigs are fished on the bottom.
The bass hang around almost any type of structure. The features that seemed to hold the thickest concentration are the areas of deep mussel mounds. The invasion of green mussels seems to have at least some purpose. They are established in the area between the Port Tampa channel and the Gandy Bridge. For those without the benefit of a bottom machine, a heavy split-shot sinker rig can be dragged until you feel the mussel beds or catch a fish. If the wind is blowing, try to stay in the area, or put out a marker. Drift fishing the area is advised.
Silver trout are easy to catch and don't mind the cold. Using ultralight gear adds to the fun and increases catch rates. They are an ideal species to target for children. Silvers can be found in 15 to 30 feet of water. The shipping channels and the intake channel to the Weedon Island power plant are favorite spots.
Trout should be played with care. If horsed in, most will escape.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or at www.snookfish.com.