Schooled up: Massive schools of oversized breeder trout are in all the usual winter spots. Northerly winds push water off shallow flats, exposing vast areas of sea grass dotted with hidden potholes. As the tide drops out, these big schools will congregate in the deeper sandy holes. They are also on deeper grass flats adjacent to shallower flats.
Ecosystem: Sea grass provides food, habitat and nursery areas for countless adult and juvenile trout. An acre of sea grass will support thousands of predator fish, along with the fish and crustaceans they feed upon.
Tactics: At the bottom of the tide, look for trout to be grouped up in sandy potholes, along rocky sea floor, and all over deeper grass flats. As the tide rises, trout will move onto shallow flats to feed. When targeting these big trout in shallow water, make long, accurate casts and use a stealthy approach. A float that suspends your bait just above the top of the grass might be necessary when fishing shallow.
Hardware: Trout can be fished with a variety of live baits, artificials or a combination. Some live baits that work well for trout this time of year include shrimp, pinfish and finger mullet. When picking artificials, try ones that mimic those live baits such as a lightweight jig or a plug that resembles a mullet.
Seth Leto charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (727) 385-0382.