What's hot: With cold fronts moving in, cooler water has moved many speckled trout on to the grassflats and spoil islands. Female trout in the 22-inch range are using oyster bars and docks to ambush baits. On the incoming tides, these fish will lay up in the skinny water and feed while the currents flush in baitfish and small crabs. Pumpkin jig slammers in turtlegrass green and motor oil rigged with a 1/8-ounce jighead work great to drift fish the shallow flats of St. Joseph Sound. Stage upwind to allow longer casts ahead to the edges of potholes. This usually brings in good numbers of trout and allow anglers to cover more ground.
The full moon brought in schools of large redfish that can mostly be found on the edges of mangroves on higher water and the dropoffs on lower tides. The south wind over the next couple of days will help keep the tide high and find many fish rooting around in the no-motor zones of Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands.
Winter tips: As the water cools, the clarity increases and can make inshore fish finicky. Downsizing in leader size to 15-pound test can help to disguise an angler's presentation on weary fish.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017