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Greetings anglers

Sunday I set out Sunday to see the snook impact from the recent cold spell on Tampa Bay inshore waters and flats. It was easy to locate the snook but was surprising was how many big female snook I found. I just watched as they were very lethargic and were swimming slowly. These fish are still recovering and should be left alone. Throwing lures are baits on these fish will only spook them causing them to expend more energy.

The water temperature on lower Tampa Bay ranged from 56.5 to 61 degrees at noon. The 10 day forecast is optimistic with mild temperatures and no cold fronts. Daytime highs near 70 with low’s in the upper 50’s to 60 will slowly warm the water and turn on the bite.

Best bet are sheepshead a winter time favorite on Tampa Bay. Sheepshead are famous for stealing baits, here are several tips. When using shrimp use only a small piece not the entire shrimp. Light fluorocarbon leader 10-15 pound test fishing with a size 1 hook. I use the smallest weight needed to keep the bait in the strike zone. The bite is subtle, even a large sheepshead 8-10 pounds will only feel like tap tap. Keep your line tight and watch for the slightest movement. Look for old docks and bridges loaded with barnacles and chances are you will find sheepshead.

Look for spotted sea trout to come alive very soon. Drift deep grass flats tossing soft plastic lures or shrimp until you find a school. Typical when you get hit there are many more nearby. Remember to keep your presentation slow.

Capt. Steven

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