What's hot: With winter's cooler water temperatures and lower tides starting to show, many inshore gamefish have taken up in backcountry areas where sight-casting is at a premium. Noticeable pushes from fish can easily be seen in the shallows as mangrove shorelines block the wind, leading to calm conditions. Speckled trout, redfish and sheepshead make great targets to cast a shrimp or lure. As the sun arcs lower across the sky, in a southern trend, many south-facing shorelines will warm up quicker. Visibility is best later in the day. The lower water levels drop fish into troughs, and on negative tides, the fish can get caught in pools of water on the flats. Though speckled trout is closed in the south region, Thanksgiving usually has the first wave of 5-pounders for this catch-and-release season.
Tackle: Wintertime fishing among the shallows requires longer casts to fish that are easily spooked. By spooling up with a lighter braid such as Spiderwire Stealth in 15-pound test, anglers get increased casting distance.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017