Full-moon tides combined with lower water temperatures get speckled trout bunched up in typical holding spots this time of year. Good places to find schools of adult trout include hard-shell bottom roll-offs found along spoil islands and nearshore structures such as jetties and small reefs along the beaches. Arrive at the bait shop early enough to get quality-sized shrimp; it's well worth it. The perfect presentation to fool larger trout is handpicked or select-sized shrimp free-lined with an up-current cast. In rough conditions, a small split shot should be used to assist the bait in getting to the proper depth during its drift. Schools of silver trout can be found along the beach, in as close as the sea buoys and out as far as a few hundred yards. Marking on them on your bottom machine is easy because they travel in big schools. Tandem jigs in pink, white or chartreuse work great. Once the fish are found, it's easy to catch a bunch. Keep some of the larger ones, but like speckled trout, the silvers don't freeze well. Windy days are becoming the norm, making sheepshead fishing a good option. Fishing for them has been good along bridge fenders and pilings, and deep residential docks near the passes. Shrimp, fiddler crabs and barnacles work well. Scraping the barnacles off the pilings helps in getting the fish to feed, especially on cold days.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.