What's hot: Winter is great for exploring the flats for dropoffs game fish use as ambush areas. Negative tides leave shoals exposed, as well as sandy potholes that dot the shallows. Clear water throughout the St. Joseph Sound creates great sight-casting opportunities for large speckled trout and redfish.
Tactics: With larger female trout moving inside the barrier islands toward the grass flats, artificials have been productive. Use turtle-grass-colored jerkbaits and darker soft suspension baits in 2-4 feet. Focus on sandy potholes with good current flow such as the flats east of the spoil islands along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Tip: When live-baiting specks, rig a select-sized shrimp about 3 feet from the cork. A peg cork with a small part of the top broken off will chug water when popping. This often will draw reaction strikes from nearby.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.