What's hot: We haven't had the usual long streaks of cold for this time of year until now. Overnight temperatures in the 40s will cool our shallow bays much more quickly than the deeper gulf, so cold-sensitive fish like cobia, jack crevalle, pompano and trout will seek warm water outflows at local power plants. The best fishing for cobia occurs after the first couple of fronts and often slows shortly thereafter.
Tactics: Ideal fishing conditions for cobia usually occur a couple of days after a front moves through. Cobia can be spotted from a tower, often cruising along the backs of stingrays and manatees. These fish can be sight-casted and caught on artificial lures or live bait. Try shallow diving plugs like Bomber's or Pumpkin Jig's Slammer tails rigged on a half-ounce jig head. For live bait, a good-sized pinfish suspended a few feet below a cork will usually get a bite. If sight-casting is not an option, anchor and chum with cut sardines and a frozen chum block.
What else?: Don't pass on those big schools of jacks as they bully their way around the channel edges, looking to destroy anything in their path. These bruisers will pull line better than any fish pound for pound that can be targeted inshore.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 692-5868.