What's hot: Catch-and-release trout fishing in the south zone has been great. Trout are schooling in large numbers in the potholes on the flats and the dropoffs on the edge of the grass. The larger trout have moved off their summer hangout along the beach and are feeding heavily on pinfish and whitebait. Most of the large trout will be in the potholes during low tide. This gives them a great place to feed and protection from the dolphins that can't swim in water that shallow. When a cold front drops the water temperature, the trout will hang in the deeper holes just off the flats. This way they won't have far to swim back to the shallows when the dolphins move in to feed. The big numbers of trout will hang in 3 to 4 feet of water that has a mixture of sand and grass.
Tackle: Artificial lures will help you find trout quicker than live bait. Jigs, jerk baits, hard body sinking plugs and top water lures produce the best action. My go-to lure is a motor oil-colored jig dragged slowly along the bottom. Target areas where sand meets grass. Trout like to lie in the sand and have the grass next to them for camouflage. Keep your tackle light. A rod rigged with 10-pound line and a 15-pound leader will draw more strikes then heavier tackle. Squeezing down the bard will make releasing easier for you and the trout.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.