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Capt. Travis Tampa Bay Fishing Report – December 2021

Weather is the driving force for December fishing

Although we have not yet seen any substantial “cold” weather, our bay water temps have finally dropped into the 60’s and our Winter patterns are beginning to show face. In most areas, bait has moved off the shallow flats and has found refuge on the deeper range markers, towers, bridges, and rock jetties. Inshore gamefish like Snook, Redfish, and Trout are also settling into their cold-water haunts due to the lack of shallow water bait and extreme low tides that will funnel them into the rivers, creeks, and back bays this time of year.

redfish in tampa bay

For me, the inshore bite has still been all about the Redfish. We have been able to ride the wave for a few extra weeks this year keeping up with some pretty good groups of fish along the South Shore. Having a shallow draft boat is definitely the key as these fish are staying very shallow, even on the lowest of tides. On the colder days, we are finding small numbers of fish staged up in the deeper potholes and troughs in the back bays and on the warmer days we will be targeting shallow grass flats. For most of my charters, live bait is the “go-to”. Any mix of live finfish will do the trick but if you can wrangle up some healthy pinfish, they won’t turn them down. In heavy cover, try rigging it under a popping cork to reach their attention from a distance and keep the bait from getting in the grass. I like to set my length according to the water depth from the surface to the top of the grass. If you like throwing artificial baits, now is the time. For the last year, we have been testing the New Berkley Gulp Paddle Shad with great results. My favorite is the 4” in Black & Gold rigged on a ¼ oz Fusion 19 Jig Head.

catch grouper in tampa bay

If you are still looking to put some meat on the table, we will be filling last minute orders on Gag Grouper. As we approach 2022 and the end of this year’s season, expect to see some great days bottom fishing in the bay. For us, these trips are always weather dependent but when it all comes together, it can me magical. Depending on the tide and water temps, I will use a combination of trolling lures and live baits. Any of the Rapala X Rap in the 20-30 ft models have been productive for me over the years and I recommend a trolling speed of around 4 mph for best results. Areas around the Skyway Bridge and along the main shipping channel are a funnel point for big grouper in the bay. If you like battling off the bottom, all you have to do is load up on some big pinfish. If possible, free line generally works the best and I don’t like to fish anything over 1-1/2 oz of lead in most places I target them. Having a GPS Anchor Trolling Motor is a critical component to consistent success as you can easily make adjustments and get baits to the strike zone with precision. The days of chucking a traditional anchor is in the past and by the time we bring you the next report, so will the year 2021. I hope that you all have a great holiday season and enjoy those days off with family, friends, and FISH! Until next year – tight lines.

family fishing for redfish on tampa bay

The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Suzuki Repower and Mastry Engine Center.

Capt. Travis Yaeckel
Instinct Fishing Co.
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Stay dialed-in to what’s biting in Tampa Bay! Capt. Travis Yaeckel, Capt. Jason Prieto, Capt. Ric Liles, & Danny Guarino bring you the full report each week. Listen every Sunday Morning 8-9am on 1040AM ESPN Sports Talk Radio. Watch LIVE on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday 6-7pm. Or download the podomatic app on your phone or tablet and listen anytime. Search “ Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio Show “ to follow us and find current and past shows.

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