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Inshore Winter Flats Fishing for Clearwater Fl.

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What Is Saltwater Inshore Flats Fishing?

As winter arrives in the Clearwater fishing area, January and February brings in colder temperatures and a great opportunity for catching some of our sought after saltwater inshore flats fish.

Ask your northern friends what saltwater fishing means. You will probably get an answer like, fishing from big charter and party boats. Also they will tell you Tampa Bay saltwater fishing is for offshore grouper, snapper, sailfish and other deep sea species.

 On the other hand, here in Florida and many other coastal states, there’s inshore flats’ fishing. This is generally saltwater fishing from smaller boats, 15 to 24 feet in length, and usually 1 to 4 fishermen.

Most all of the inshore fishing is done in protected waters along the shore, in passes, inshore flats, shallow water and back bays.

 Clearwater inshore flats fishing areas like others around the state, affords anglers the opportunity to catch big fish in shallow water. Many of the world record and state record catches come from Florida's most famous flats fishing location; The Florida Keys.

Most all of the Tampa Bay and Clearwater fishing equipment, rods and reels, are considered light tackle. This includes 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 foot rods, spinning reels with 10 to 20 lb. test line and leaders from 20 to 30 lb. test. When targeting bigger species like tarpon and sharks, heavier equipment is necessary.

Fly rods can be used in catching many types of fish in less than three feet of water.

 The most popular of the inshore flats fish caught are redfish, snook, tarpon and trout. Others will include ladyfish, mackerel, cobia, shark, pompano and jacks. All of these fish can be stalked in Clearwater’s inshore shallow water. Most of the fish you can see first before you cast a bait to them. This is called sight fishing.

So, if the big offshore fishing boats, with long rides out and back and lots of fishermen on board are not your thing, then take a look at Clearwater inshore flats fishing in shallow protected waters. It may be just what you are looking for the next time you want to go saltwater fishing.

If you are new to this type of fishing, then it may be best to charter a professional guide, like myself, and experience catching fish in the exciting shallow water world.

During the winter months, we will be targeting big gator trout. Most of these big gators will be over 22 inches and lots are over 26. These big trout will move into the local flats and shallow water grass areas and spend the cold months staying warm. You can target them with various artificials and have good success, but live shrimp whether you free line or use a float will be your best bet.

So clean up those rods and reels and get ready for winter time saltwater inshore flats fishing.

Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website:

Capt. Gary



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