What's hot: Cold water redfish will be the shallow-water fish of choice for the next few months. With weekly cold fronts moving through, reds will prowl the flats on all but the coldest days. Add to this super low tides pushed out even farther by north "breezes" and clear blue skies and you have the perfect day for sight-casting to reds.
Tactics: In order to sight-cast to reds you need to see the fish first. Polarized sunglasses are a must. A friend with experience can help you spot that first one, then you'll know what to look for. Redfish rarely look like the big ones seen over the mantle. Mostly they appear as a shadow moving along the bottom. Cast beyond and in front of your target fish's line of travel and work the lure back a few feet ahead of him and hang on. This does take a bit of skill and is not for everyone, but you can make the most of a cold day.
Finding fish: I start in about 2 feet of water and work in. After sighting a fish, we slip over the side and wade the area. Reds often will follow a line down the flat, and a second school may follow the same line. Birds might follow bluefish, but not reds, so there's no need to chase every diving bird. Move slowly and look. It will pay off.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.