What's hot: With the extreme low tides of winter upon us, it is a great time to get out and find the "fish highways" that predators will use to access the many shallow flats. Most of these skinny water scenarios take place around the new and full moons. By looking over a chart of an area, note the regions that show 2 feet of water or less. This will help find shoals and natural troughs that become exposed on negative tides. Redfish and larger speckled trout will move up a trough that leads into a grass flat and stage up in deeper potholes to ambush bait as the tide flushes inward. This flooding will bring about the aggressive nature of these predators, and often artificials can work great. Darker jerkbaits in turtlegrass green or root beer work well when rigged with an eighth-ounce weedless jighead. Another lure that produces larger fish is a quarter-ounce pumpkin bucktail tossed into the sandy pockets leading into a flat. When livebaiting, cast a free-lined, select shrimp and allow it to drift naturally in the current to stand out in the clear water of St. Joseph Sound.
Winter redfish schools: Though these cold fronts have been nonstop this winter, the one staple has been the hot redfish bite. As the tides reach the highest point, work the edges of oyster bars to find schools of redfish. Catches of 30 or more have not been uncommon. Most fish will average 15 to 22 inches with a few 5-pounders mixed in.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.