A day before the November cold front hit, the water temperature in Clearwater Bay was in the middle 70s. There was bait still on the grass flats. The inshore and bay waters were very clean. The cold front was on its way and cooler air was expected.
John, Larry and Emily joined me just before the front was to sweep through the area. It was one heck of a day because of the great weather and the abundant fish caught. We fished an outgoing tide in the calm Clearwater Bay waters. Larry caught the first redfish and after that, I can’t remember who caught what! All three anglers caught eleven different species and over 60 fish. Checkout John’s 21 inch trout, Emily’s 4 lb. bluefish and Larry’s 25 inch mackerel, just to mention a few. They caught grouper, ladyfish and lots of others.
Emily had the fish of the day. Her line took off screaming. I was worried that it wasn’t going to stop! The fish slowly turned and she fought it back to the boat. We finally got a good look at this brown colored mystery fish. Sure enough, it was a big brown bomber. The cobia was at least 36 inches and close to 20 lbs. Emily reeled the fish close to the boat just to have it take off on another run. Finally I had a net shot and the cobia took off again, this time snapping the line. What a disappointment for Emily after her experience. We managed to get a picture of the fish beside the boat in the water. We caught a few more trout and mackerel, and called it a day after the sunset.
The cold front passed through the following day and dropped the water temperature to the low 60’s. A few days later, John from Massachusetts came on board for the morning. We started in the back waters and around the mangroves. The extreme low tides had us fishing some of the deeper holes that were adjacent to the high and dry grass flats. Normally, these areas will hold trout and redfish because they have no place to go. John was casting an artificial jig head with a 3” Cal plastic and I was throwing out live shrimp. He caught a couple dozen trout on the artificial and I caught about 4 fish. The trout were feeding on small baits in the area and didn’t want anything to do with live shrimp. We moved to a different spot as the tide came in. I chummed up a few shrimp along the mangroves to start the action. John started to catch redfish using live shrimp under a float. The dozen or so fish were all 15 to 18 inches. He added a nice 16 inch flounder to the mix when time ran out. John had to get back to attend an afternoon business meeting at the Resort.
Eric, wife Shannon and Arlyn joined me for some late November fishing. We started out at the rock jetties in Clearwater where some snook were still hanging out. With water temps still close to 70 and lots of bait fish around, it’s not uncommon to find late season snook in this area. These fish will be heading to the back waters at the first hint of a cold front.
I chummed the water with some smashed up white bait and cast out lines. After 45 minutes and no takers, we left the area. But before we took off, I did a slow look along the rocks and saw about a half dozen snook lying around sluggishly.
We headed north into St. Joseph Sound and fished around a few spoil islands. After a short lesson in fishing with artificials, my clients proceeded to catch eight nice size trout over 20 inches. Next stop was back into the mangroves looking for redfish. At this point we were casting live shrimp under a float. After a few minutes, we did catch a couple of redfish and Shannon’s was the biggest at 22 inches.
I’m expecting more of this action to continue all through the winter. The trout and redfish will only get bigger. The addition of scattered blue fish should make it a banner year winter fishing in Clearwater and Dunedin.
Capt. Gary Burch