Christmas to New Years

           ABSOLUTE FLORIDA FLATS FISHING,@ 727-376-8809, reported water temperatures falling 10* F from 70-72* F, to 60-61* F , on the west central Florida gulf coast flats, this week with some very cool morning days, after a cold front blew through the area inshore flats on December 27th. The conditions kind of put the fish in a confused, lethargic and somewhat a bit of shock, as that is a big change in such a short time. Captain Rich Knox ran fishing trips on Dec. 28th and the 29th as his clients really wanted to fish with their families as part of their Christmas vacations!  The Trout fishing , flounder, ladyfish and bluefish seemed to be the most receptive of all the species, that were enjoying the really nice month of December we had, whitebait was scarce but we managed to collect enough for both fishing trips, along with pinfish and grunts, they all worked as the temp’s were still falling ! The fish moved from the shallow flats to the deeper edges and drop-offs, deep-holes and dark bottom residential canals and docks, swash channels on the fishing flats from Clearwater, Caladesi island, Honeymoon island to Tarpon Springs, Anclote key and some channels and canals in the New Port Richey area. The best time to fish was with the mid-morning low-tides, the beginning of incoming from 10am. Till 3pm., this was also the warmest part of the day! The Trout were all in the 18’ to 22” range coming from 5’ to 7’ of water they were spread out,  but this to will change, there were good numbers of these fish along the outer edges of the inshore fishing flat, as the water temps got colder the second day they moved into a little deeper water, until the sun got up good and they began to sun and feed in 3’ of water,  the key is patience. The flounder came mostly from fishing some deeper docks, the Bluefish and Ladyfish locations were givin up by the birds mostly.

                 Today January 1st opens the start of a new era for now as the trout fishing will be open year round in both the south and north zones, the limits are the same 4 fish in the southern zone with 1 fish over 20” and 5 fish in the northern zone also with 1 fish over 20”. The Spotted Sea Trout measurements are 15” to 20” in all state waters. Inshore flats fishing will just get better as the normal temperatures seemed to have caught up to us finally for the remainder of the winter I suppose. More fish, bigger fish will begin to group up in good numbers to spawn, try not to keep fish over (Trout) 24” if you care about the fishery, as the bigger the fish in the gene pool the better,  these fish will begin to use all the Florida Gulf Coast Flats fishing secret hangouts on incoming fronts and between the fronts (Best  time to Fish),on flats, rivers, bayous, deep-holes on an inshore flat out of the wind, shell bars, channels, residential canals loaded with docks and rocks all the structure you can think of. This time of year it’s usually best to go artificial lures first cover some ground till you find a good number of fish, and use shrimp, pinfish or cut bait in some cases with stubborn fish.  Push-Poling a flats fishing skiff opportunities abound for Fly-Fisherman as the fish Trout, Red fish,  use the shallow gin clear flats to sun and a quick meal, all the above mentioned fish and more! By the end of the year the fish began to feed strongly! On our last few fishing trips although conditions were tough we still managed a good catch for some Great Fresh Fish Meals per adventure and had great fun. The best to you this year and may your rods be bent and your lines tight. HAPPY NEW YEAR  ! ! !