What's hot: Because of the recent wind, most deeper flats around spoil islands will have dirty water, causing trout and redfish to seek clear water. The shallows along the main shoreline tend to clear more quickly because of the rich turtle grass. This creates some great sight-casting opportunities as schools of oversized trout roam the St. Joseph Sound area. These tentative fish require a good cushion, so longer casts are necessary to hook a 5-pounder. By drifting the flats and throwing artificial lures, such as turtle-grass Slammers rigged with a 1/8-ounce jighead, anglers are able to cover more water and find pockets of fish. Another method is to tail-hook a select-sized shrimp with a small split shot just above the hook to cast it farther.
The redfish use docks as a feeding zone, and they ambush baits flowing by on the incoming tide. The sandy depressions under these structures are where the fish hold. When casting a weighted shrimp to the desired spot, be aware that these predators hold tight to the shade and a deeper bait increases results. Keep all slack out of the line to feel the bite.
Drift fishing tip: When fishing in a brisk wind, slow the boat's drift to methodically cover the flat by placing a pair of 3-gallon buckets off the side of the vessel. The buckets can be tied at different cleat points to vary the angle of the drift.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at [email protected]