The tides this week will be much better than they were last weekend. This will give anglers some better conditions to navigate and fish off Hernando Beach. Colder Gulf waters have pushed fish into the backcountry which can be difficult to get into with the lower than normal winter tides.
The trout bite has taken first place the past few weeks and should continue to stay strong as we go through January. A large select shrimp lightly "popped" under a cork is producing good numbers of quality trout. I am also having success with a white Lil John jerk bait on a 1/4 jig head. Try to give the jig a lot of action, but retrieve it slow at the same time.
Look for red fish near mangrove, rocky, and saw grass shore line. Be ready to hit a variety of locations until you locate fish and then move on as the bite slows. Select shrimp free-lined to these areas is a great option, but I will put on a small cork at times to keep my bait just off rocky bottom to prevent hang ups. The cork will also allow the tide to move your bait across an area and cover ground.
Black drum and sheepshead numbers continue to improve. Target deeper holes and channels and keep your baits at the bottom. Use a smaller hook and leader (1/0 hook and a 15-pound test) to increase your hookups. I like to cut a large shrimp in half and use each section separately. This puts scent in the water and the fresh shrimp will stay on hook better than frozen shrimp. Remember to only keep 5 black drum between 14 inches and 24 inches per angler (1 over 24" allowed).
This is a great time to get on the water and fish. They say 90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water, and I believe that when fishing during colder months.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson owns Bulldog Fishin Charters, operating out of Hernando Beach. Contact him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581.