Want to fill your cooler up with a taste treat? Silver trout, speckled trout and sheepshead make great frying fish. Catching these fish in the winter months is a blast.
Tampa Bay’s rivers and canals are they key to catching speckled trout during the winter. During the colder months, white bait disappears and bait on the grass flats moves to deeper waters. As a result, large speckled trout move towards the canals and rivers where bait congregates for the winter. Live shrimp is the winter bait of choice. Two methods of deployment are used on our charters. Either, we float the shrimp under a cork or we bounce the shrimp off the bottom with a weight. Both methods produce very well. Some days during the winter, it can be a trout bite every cast.
Silver trout are also a great winter fish to target. Silver trout move into deep channels, artificial reefs and near the piers as the water cools. As a child growing up in Tampa Bay, silver trout were my favorite fish to catch. We could fill up our coolers with them. It remains the same today. On the cold winter days it is nice to find a deep canal out of the wind and sit there catching one silver trout after another.
During the winter, sheepshead congregate around artificial reefs. Sheepshead are an excellent fish to eat. These fish have teeth that look like human teeth. Sheepshead eat barnacles and other hard crustaceans. Their mouths are extremely tough and they are the only inshore species that we suggest setting the hook on. When fishing the reefs, it can be tricky to anchor the boat properly. Patience is key because unless the boat is anchored properly, we will not be able to determine whether the sheepshead will bite or not. Being anchored a few feet off the spot, is usually unproductive. The boat should be sitting directly on top of the reef for fishing to be productive.
Winter fishing catches a lot of fish!