John Rivers

January Tampa Bay Fishing Report

What a weird weather pattern we’ve dealt with these past few weeks; one week it’s really cold like we’re in the North pole and then it’s back to normal with temps in the mid 60’s to lower 70’s.

A lot of people asked what’s this done to the fishing, and here is the answer.The trout bite has been outstanding the past month and February should be just as good as the water temps are in the 60’s right where the trout like it. My go to baits for trout are soft plastics such as a Matrix Shad on a 1/8oz jig head or ¼ oz jig head depending upon how deep of water I’m fishing. I also have a 17MR MirrOlure tied on as well as a Heddon Spook top-water plug; these three lures are my staples when it comes to speckled trout fishing. I’ve been using them for years and they have never failed me yet.


Now let’s talk redfish; big schools of reds have moved into Tampa Bay, I can’t say where but I can say that they are chewing on a variety of baits, from cut white bait, to cut mullet and if you want to toss artificials, tie on a Heddon Spook or a gold Spoon and hang on!

Look for pushes in the water and lots of mullet, and you’ll find the reds in depths of 2-5 ft of water is where they are hanging out.Moving on to Sheepshead, the bite has been outstanding on many of the bridge pilings, rock piles and docks in Tampa Bay. Live shrimp and fiddler crabs are the baits of choice.

Remember to have a light leader and a small #1 or #2 J Hook tied on. I like Gamakatsu, but you can use what you like or you can use a 1/8 or ¼ oz jig head depending upon what the current / tide is doing. Snook fishing has been slower, and it will be till spring, especially with the major cold fronts we had in January, it put the snook in winter mode and they are very lethargic and they are not feeding much. Once the water warms back up, the snook should be back to their usual feeding patterns, but until then, I suggest letting them adjust to the weather change and go after some other species.

As you can see the fishing has been very good the past 4 weeks and February should be very good as we get closer to spring. Lastly, I’m having surgery on Friday 1/26 and will be off the water for 7-8 weeks, so if you’re looking for an inshore fishing trip in February or March, and don’t know who to book, give me a ring and I’ll put you in contact with a few of my captain buddies.

I am however booking trips for April, May and the rest of 2018, so if you’re looking for an experienced fishing guide, give me a ring. With 15 years of guiding experience I can promise you a fun and exciting day on the water and plenty of bent fishing rods.

The pics used in this report are older pics, I'll be back to fishing in April, and have new pics then, thanks for stopping bay, please check out my face book page at Capt. John Rivers Inshore Charters and become a fan,

Tight Lines.  Capt. John    727-313-1781

Fish Species: Trout, Sheepshead, Redfish,
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Trout Fishing has been good
Trout Fishing has been good

Releasing a nice trout
Releasing a nice trout

John Rivers

About The Author: Captain John Rivers

Company: Rivers to Bay Fishing Charters

Area Reporting: Tampa Bay, Clearwater, St Peterburg

Bio: I have a lifetime of fishing knowledge and over 8yrs of experience fishing the northern gulf coast and our local water ways. I have enjoyed fishing all my life. While living in the Midwest, I fished Kentucky & Barkley Lake for years along with the Ohio River and many local water ways. My first passion was bass fishing, but when I came to Florida, I found my new love Salt Water Fishing !

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