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Most of my clients are from out of town and often have limited flexibility in their schedules so it’s always hard to call and cancel a trip due to weather. Mother Nature sends cold fronts to Florida during the winter with wind being the key factor. The last 2 weeks I had to pull the plug on 4 trips!

Shallow water heats up or cools off rapidly, you need to understand and adapt accordingly. The golden rule as temperatures drop slows everything down.

Chuming white baits even on windy and cool days have been relatively easy the last month. Not getting wet has been the hard part. White baits and pinfish filled the live well, let the fun begin.

Wind was prevalent last week which always creates challenges. Casting live baits into the wind is never easy even for seasoned anglers. I look for and set up on locations my anglers can use the wind to their advantage. Wind also hampers sighting fish so most windy days require blind casting. I like to throw live chum baits as it pinpoints their locations when they blow up on baits. Quickly toss baits into the blow up zone and hang on.

We are also chasing grouper with live baits and deep diving plugs. These tactics are growing in popularity as the grouper population within Tampa Bay appear to have grown rapidly. On a regular basis I have had grouper in my cast net while gathering bait on the flats in 3’ of water. They are plentiful to say to the least. We have been finding grouper in 25-30’ mostly shorts with an occasional keeper. The hit is awesome, the first 20 seconds the grouper has one goal and that’s to get back in the structure from which he came. Once you get the grouper 10’ off the bottom you can take a quick breather!

The snook bite was ok in the usual winter haunts, rivers, canals, power plants. Trout were not as easy, trick was finding cleaner water. Look for grass flats to clean up quickly once winds abate.

Jacks have been super at times; large schools can be seen chasing bait from long distances. Several schools or late have to have 300-500 fish. If you have never caught a Jack you are in for a treat, pound per pound the fight is awesome.

Residential canals offer great protection from the wind. Combine that with concrete walls and muddy bottoms the water temperatures are appealing to many species. Focus on the sunny side of the canal as it warms the quickest.

Capt. Steven

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