What's hot: With the cooler temperatures that have moved in, the speckled trout bite has increased dramatically over the past couple of weeks. The majority of them have been in the 18- to 22-inch range, with a few in excess of 24 inches. And from the looks of recent catches, the redfish population in north Pinellas County will have plenty of keeper-sized fish in the spring. There are good numbers of smaller reds on every oyster bar and spoil island on higher tides.
Tackle: Picking up some select-sized shrimp will net anglers larger redfish. With the water being so clear, the increased size allows the extra long cast when tail-hooked and helps with tentative fish. Long eel-style soft plastics, in turtle grass green and motor oil, have produced great bites when rigged with a ⅛-ounce jig head. The trout have jumped all over this combination while drifting grassflats. Another great search tool this time of year is a silver spoon with a white bucktail trailer that covers all levels of the water column.
Tactics: The winter months are the artificial anglers' favorite time. Sight-casting to fish that are located in sandy potholes works well when dead-sticking a smelly, soft plastic shrimp or jerkbait. The best method is to let the redfish find the lure by sense of smell, making the fish less reluctant to attack an angler's offering. The trout are hitting the plastics on a reactionary bite. A popping action while retrieving plastics has proven to catch more specks. Be sure to work all parts of the water depth.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017