December and January Fishing Report
The fishing action has been outstanding this winter in the Clearwater and Dunedin fishing areas. We caught fish in cooler temperatures after a cold front passed and in the beautiful warmer weather in between the fronts. I lost a few trips due to the horrid weather caused by the passing cold fronts but all in all, our winter catching has been on fire. In Dec. the water temps dropped below 60 degrees after a few cold fronts but started a steady increase through January back to 70. I’m sure this temperature will drop back below 60 before winter’s done.
I’ve been doing most of my fishing in Clearwater Bay and Dunedin’s St Joseph Sound. These areas are some of the favorite hang outs for large gator sea trout. Every winter the large 20+ inch fish move into bays and spend the winter in the abundant grass areas throughout the bays. It’s not uncommon to catch these trout as large as 24 to 26 inches. Along with the tout we have found scattered pompano, blue fish, mackerel, and even a few small sharks.
Redfish are scattered throughout the bays. We caught redfish on some trips and did not locate them on others. With this in mind, I didn’t waste too much time chasing reds hoping that later in January and February they will make a better showing.
The following trips and photos are a sampling of my winter fishing so far. See all photo's in the Slidshow area.
Paul and Natalie came out on a nice day in December and wanted to see what winter fishing was about. Paul was an avid fly fisherman up north and wanted to try it here. I brought my 5 wt rod and he did a great job casting and ended up catching some small trout. We also fished live shrimp in the shallows and caught some nice 20 + inch trout. Natalie boated the fish of the day, a beautiful 6 lb. pompano which she caught on a live shrimp under a float.
On a cooler day in December, Brian, Jeff and Niles joined up to explore the fishing scene. They instantly got into the action in Clearwater bay catching redfish, black drum and trout. All three were adding up the numbers on nice trout. We moved north and they started catching fish in Dunedin as well. The biggest trout, 22 and 23 inches, came from this area. They also added a couple of blue fish and one nice pompano.
Another Brian and friends joined me on a nice day in January and we located a few redfish. All three anglers caught redfish up to 24 inches and trout to 21 inches. Also Brian caught a black drum which gave him a drum slam. Redfish (red drum), black drum and speckled sea trout (the drum family) make up the drum slam.
The guys from Poland joined me for their first saltwater fishing trip ever and made a great day of it. Their catch included lots of trout over 20 inches, several 3 to 5 lb. blue fish, mackerel and a 4 lb. pompano. They did a great job catching the fish and took a few home to eat especially the pompano.
These are our main targets for the winter fishery here in the Clearwater and Dunedin fishing area. I would like to see more redfish but it seems they have not made much of an appearance yet.
Winter fishing around the Clearwater and Dunedin area will continue on into February with large gator trout, blue fish, black drum and redfish remaining the prized targets. Pick a nice day and drift around the grass shallows in the bay and you will locate your own school of trout.
Take home laws for trout are: Min. size is 15 inches and max. is 20 inches. Four per person and only one of those four fish can be over 20 inches. For all the fishing rules, please visit the FWC’s web site HERE. http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/saltwater/basic-recreational...
Get a sweat shirt on and come out winter fishing.
Capt. Gary Burch