January Inshore Fishing Report: 2023
January has us in full winter fishing mode on beautiful Anna Maria Island. Cooler weather during the holidays sent water temperatures into the 60’s and even the 50’s in some areas.
The cooler water pushed snook into the warmest water they could find near residential docks and deep holes with dark bottom. Redfish and speckled trout are less affected by the cold but are also looking for warmer areas where they can easily find a quick meal. Sheepshead are preparing for their spawning season, congregating near structure and feeding aggressively.
Shrimp are the bait of choice right now. A well placed and weighted live or dead shrimp on a circle hook is hard for any of these fish to pass up. That includes catch and release gag grouper who are also congregating near structure both near shore and inshore, including residential docks. A take from one of these guys while dock fishing is an memorable highlight to any trip.
The cooler weather has also jump started my fishing trips to the Preserve. The snook are schooled up in thermal hideaways and as the day warms the bite does as well. Once located, shrimp imitations and even hard baits are tough for them to pass up. The redfish are more spread out, but will take the same baits. We even catching larger sheepshead on jigs with a soft plastic shrimp.
One of my favorite ways to locate fish this time of year is slow rolling spoons through likely holding areas. Hungry redfish love the flash and vibration of a spoon and as a bonus this technique often yields our largest snook of the day.
Another bonus this time of year is the jack crevalle bite. On a recent trip to the Preserve, we located hundreds of jacks schooled in an isolated backwater. We quickly switched to topwater baits and the results were truly amazing. Multiple fish competing to destroy our plugs on every cast. The takes were ferocious and acrobatic. The bite continued until everyone, including the jacks, were worn out.
Kayak (Robinson) Rich