Power plant warm water run offs are good places to fish during periods of cold weather. Predator fish and bait fish move to the warmer water temps for comfort .
Commonly found fish in the warm water runoffs pompano, trout, sharks, ladyfish, jacks, bluefish and more. A number of years ago a 30 pound kingfish was caught in the Apollo Beach power plant during the dead of winter. Hooking a tarpon is also not uncommon.
With so many different species available my favorite way to fish the run offs is to fish a combination of live bait and artificial. While drifting, I like to float a live shrimp under a cork, put a live shrimp down on the bottom while bouncing a soft plastic jig or a pompano jig, along the bottom. When I start catching fish I drop the anchor until the bite stops and then resume drifting.
Sight fishing for sharks and the occasional cobia can be a load of fun. The shallow sand bars along the edges of the run offs is the place for sight fishing. Sharks, usually frisky black tips, like a fresh shrimp or pin fish. If live bait is not available try a piece of frozen cut bait like a Spanish sardine or threadfin herring.
Cobia can be seen cruising the sand bars and the edge of the drop offs. A10 inch black or purple soft plastic eel on a ¾ ounce jig head wiggled in front of the cobia nose will usually draw a quick strike. Live pin fish or a live jumbo shrimp will also work well.
If there are sea walls, rip rap or docks nearby try the structure for sheepshead and mangrove snapper . This time of year is prime for sheepshead
because they are schooling up in anticipation of their spawn in the next few months.
Use a jig head or knocker rig with a small piece of shrimp for bait. Fish on the bottom near the structure. The sheepshead and snapper bite is subtle and fast so when you feel anything set the hook hard.
Anywhere there is a warm water run off, it doesn’t have to be Tampa Bay, these techniques will work. The better fishing Tampa Bay area power plants include the Anclote power plant, the plant at Apollo Beach and the Weedon Island power plant. There are also power plants in Oldsmar and downtown Tampa.