What's hot: With a drastic drop in water temperatures, inshore anglers have seen a push of larger female speckled trout in the shallowest flats. Sandy flats between oyster bars and shorelines that face south are key areas to search for 3- to 5-pounders. Lower water levels in the mornings make for great sightcasting. Throw soft plastics in turtlegrass green rigged on a 1/8-ounce jighead to entice trout in water less than 2 feet deep. The aggressive nature of these predators in the shallows works for you when the jigs are retrieved at a quicker pace back to the boat. Docks, shoals, oyster bars and even boats are places where trout will use the tide to bring bait into the strike zone. While artificials work best in this situation, a freelined shrimp can be just as effective if it is worked naturally.
Catching convicts: The bonus to fishing with shrimp is the larger sheepshead also found during these cooler months. These convicts will pick away at the offering until there is minimal left. Use a No. 1 hook with a small split shot just above, with a small amount of shrimp placed on the hook.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at firstname.lastname@example.org