What's hot: With the tides lowering as winter approaches, many flats will get exposed and reveal highways that inshore game fish use to move into the shallows. New and full moons will have extreme lows and often trap fish in potholes. While fishing around the low tides, take note of sandy ridges and how the water runs off a flat to determine where species will stage up. This will set up a pattern for the months ahead.
Tackle: Trout and redfish like to hold up in deeper holes, where the grass flats drain, feeding on meals flushed off during the falling tide. Placing a small splitshot just above the hook will keep the offering toward the bottom. Select shrimp, small pinfish and greenbacks are the top live bait choices. Cutbait, such as ladyfish and silver mullet, works on slower-moving tides.
Tips: As water temperatures drop, larger speckled trout go to the shallows. Many fish 20-24 inches have been aggressive on incoming tides and taking big, free-lined sardines where there is strong tidal movement near the passes. These areas also hold snook that have moved in from the beaches. Using 25-pound fluorocarbon works well in St. Joseph Sound.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.