What's hot: With the moderate winter this year, many inshore gamefish are taking advantage of the bait that has moved into the shallows with warmer water. There is an abundance of silver dollar-sized pinfish across the grass flats as well as whitebait just inside many passes. By having these baits this early in February, redfish and trout are gorging themselves on the flood tides. Many fish that were cleaned in January were full of baby stone crabs and small shrimp — now that has been replaced with the baitfish. This change of appetite will lead to more aggressive behavior and find more fish moving into skinny waters.
What's ahead: While fishing with a regular client, Matt Orlando, we placed a 5-inch pinfish free-lined on the flat in hopes of catching a big redfish. To our amazement, a 28-inch speckled trout hammered the bait and took off with a screaming drag. As this month goes along, many of these breeder-sized trout will hold around potholes and mullet schools. The tides around the new moon on the 23rd will have 2½ feet of moving incoming tide, and larger redfish schools should move in. A couple of these big schools have shown up on south winds lately. Work oyster bars on high tides and deeper potholes on lower tides.
Longer casts: With the technology of today's lines, anglers can now downsize to 10-pound braided line and get an extra-long cast to weary fish. This added distance works well on schools in shallow water.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.