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Amid winter's bluster, cold-tolerant seatrout remain top bet

Inshore: Fish that can tolerate cold water are still cooperating in certain areas. Sheepshead or any variety of the drum family feed even on chilly days. Members of the drum family include redfish, seatrout, and black drum. All are delicious and will cooperate on the nastiest of days.

A proper set of foul-weather gear is a good investment for those who head out in unpredictable weather. This not only keeps you warm and keeps the cutting wind off, but it also serves as a shield from the stinky reality of fishing.

Trout are in season for the state's southern region beginning today. Seatrout are a delicate species that should be handled carefully. The slime layer is vital for fending off disease. Any breach of this film can be a death sentence. Therefore, using a dehooking device or wet hands are the best ways to safely release this game fish if it is not going to be taken for the dinner table.

Trout are bunching in the mouths of residential canals and deeper areas adjacent to grass flats. The cold mornings tend to concentrate these fish tightly, so finding one of these schools can lead to nonstop action for quite a while.

Offshore: This is the time of year when the gulf can be especially dangerous. Cold water and rapidly changing weather conditions can create an uncomfortable situation if proper precautions are not taken. Pay attention to the marine forecast and use good old-fashioned common sense.

An emergency beacon such as an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) can be the best investment on board any vessel. If things get really bad, the push of a button can get help on the way within minutes.

Grouper will be off limits for a few months, so for those seeking dinner, the red-mouth grunts are an abundant and tasty. Any area of hard bottom in depths of 30 to 50 feet will hold these delicacies. Some anglers rig cut squid a few hooks in sequence, much like a giant Sabiki rig, with a weight at the bottom.

Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or www.snookfish.com or via e-mail at captdavewalker@verizon.com.

Amid winter's bluster, cold-tolerant seatrout remain top bet 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 3:30am]

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