What's hot: The cold weather has trout fishing in full swing. When the water cools to the low to mid 60s, the trout school up in large numbers along the west coast. These fish move in from deeper flats along the Intracoastal Waterway looking for easy meals and warmer water.
Where to look: The flats around the barrier islands are very productive this time of year. Some of my favorite islands to fish are Three Rooker, Anclote Key and the north sandbar north of Anclote Key. The nice thing about those areas is you don't need a special type of boat such as a flats or a real shallow draft boat. If your boat draws less than 3 feet of water, you can get to the fish.
You can also locate some big gator trout in the mouths of rivers and creeks. The mouths of the Cottee and Anclote rivers have been hot the past two weeks. Almost all the creeks from Tarpon Springs to Hudson have had plenty of action in them also. When it come to the creeks and rivers, look for deeper holes with grass. Trout often have been hanging in or around them.
Best baits: The best baits have been artificials such as plastic jigs, shrimp, slow-sinking cranks and soft, plastic jerk worms. Live jumbo shrimp and creek chubs also produce very well during winter.
Mike Manning runs Action Fishing Adventures out of Tarpon Springs. Call him toll-free at 1-800-644-5940.