As winter approaches, water starts to cool and baitfish are more scarce. Open-water temperatures drop faster, but some small baitfish, especially glass minnows, will be in canals and well-protected deeper areas, especially where the sun can warm the darker bottom. Seawalls, wooden structure such as docks, and boats with large hulls absorb heat, inviting fish to stay close. Our low tides are midday so bankers' hours might be in order for snook, reds and trout. As the tide comes in, feeding activity should increase. A water thermometer is a necessity. A few degrees makes a difference. Seek the warmest places. On the shallow grass flats, fish will be in sand holes, improving sight-fishing opportunities. Probe these with well-placed casts. A smooth surface with no wind might help fly casting, but larger fish will spook easier. A ripple on the surface will get you closer to fish. Fish on the windward side rather than in the lee because wind pushes plankton close to shore and available baitfish will be there feeding.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.