What's hot: Believe it or not, big speckled trout are hitting right now.
Strategy: The best time to target these fish is early morning on the incoming tide. Feeding activity increases when the cooler gulf water floods the shallow grass flats where the majority of these trout live. The water temperature may only drop a degree or two, but that's all that is necessary to spark the feeding.
Where to look: Focus on thick, lush turtle grass flats that are 2 to 3 feet deep. It's imperative to locate this specific type flat next to deep water, as the deep water is security for these fish. They typically feed in shallow water and run to deep water when scared. Remember, deep water is relative. The surrounding water may only be a couple of feet deeper, but that's all it takes.
Bait: Coax the trout out of their cover with a big, noisy artificial topwater plug, such as the Mirrolure Dog series or the old standby Zara Spook — either one in a red head and white body. To attract a bite with live bait, don't bother with live shrimp. Pinfish will peck them to death. Instead, use a 4- to 5-inch whitebait (scaled sardine) or pinfish. Present live baits under a float so they can't get down in the grass to hide.
Tackle: For the bruisers, rig a little heavier than normal — 15-pound braid and 25-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Tip: Only chase these fish until 9 a.m. or so. When the sun gets too high the bite shuts down.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.