Anna Maria Island Fishing Report: Cold Fronts Usher in the New Year
The beginning of 2018 on Anna Maria Island has been a cold one. In fact, this morning my truck showed it was 34 degrees outside--Brrr! With that said, Anna Maria Island weather patterns have been pretty consistent in weekly cold fronts moving through followed by a brief warm-ups, only to have another cold front push through again.
But that doesn't necessarily spell bad fishing charters; the key is knowing how to fish the cold fronts. Typically the fish, sensing a drop in barometric pressure, eat pretty well right before a front pushes through. But once the front hits and the water temps drop the fish go into survival mode as their metabolism slows to conserve energy, resulting in the fish not eating as much.
Keep in mind, each species of fish has a preferred water temperature. As they seek their preferred water temperature, they tend to bunker down in deeper channels and canals along structure, seeking a more 'insulated' water temperature as the flats are much more susceptible to severe temperature swings--which can kill fish. But once the front passes and the temperatures begin to rise, the fish (having not fed much during the cold snap) tend to feed on the flats pretty voraciously. This can create some great fishing days, but I digress.
Recently, the name of the game has been dock fishing for sheepshead, black drum, and redfish using shrimp. I like to use 20lb. fluorocarbon leaders, size 4 circle hooks, and varying amounts of split-shot weights. Be sure to experiment with the amount of weights needed to keep the bait in the fishes' feeding zone. Once you find the sweet spot on a nice moving tide, be prepared for consistent hook-ups!
Pro-tip: make sure to chum and give the spot enough time to start firing. I use frozen shrimp for chum, and live shrimp on the lines. Also, when fishing docks or any structure for that matter, make sure to fish up-current of the structure as the fish will be looking into the current for easy meals being flushed past them by the tide.
Either way, don't let the cold-weather scare you away from what can be some great days on the water.