What's hot: With cooling weather, many large speckled trout have moved into the North Pinellas coastline. The grass flats between the spoil islands that are in the 4- to 5-foot depth are holding good numbers of trout on incoming tides. The deeper sand pockets are key ambush areas for these large females searching for a meal. Darker slammer tails rigged with a one-eighth ounce jighead work best on these fish when drifting the shallows. Anglers need to work these lures close to the bottom, where it increases the opportunity for hookups.
The islands along the Intracoastal Waterway will have fish staged up along the north faces where current is always at a premium. A select-sized shrimp rigged with a small split shot will hold the bait in position along the rocky banks. The use of these crustaceans will attract redfish, sheepshead and the bigger, breeder-sized specks. Lighter fluorocarbon leader, such as 20-pound test, may be necessary in the clear waters of St. Joseph Sound. The early bite has yielded some trout in the 25-inch-plus range before the pressure of boat traffic hits the water.
Regulations: With the closure in the south region until Jan. 1, practicing proper catch and release means fewer fatalities among these sensitive fish. With a good dehooker, anglers don't have to handle the fish. The protective slime coating that speckled trout have is how they fight off diseases.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.