Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Captains corner: Low tides compress the search zones for area anglers

Work soft-plastic baits slowly along the bottom or toss them into sandy depressions to entice seatrout into biting.

DAVID A. BROWN | Special to the Times

Work soft-plastic baits slowly along the bottom or toss them into sandy depressions to entice seatrout into biting.

These cooler months are a great time to explore the flats to find potholes and depressions that game fish use as ambush areas.

The negative tides leave shoals exposed. This allows anglers to see the many sandy potholes that dot the shallows. Gin-clear water throughout St. Joseph Sound creates great sightcasting opportunities to large speckled trout and redfish.

Offshore, grouper have moved within sight of the beach and are using the many visible rock piles inside 30 feet. Small-boat owners can fish nearshore and inshore on the calmer days.

With the larger female trout moving inside the barrier islands toward the grass flats, throwing artificials has been most productive. Turtlegrass green slammers and brown pumpkin bucktails are rewarding anglers with good catches in 2- to-4 foot depths. Focus on sandy potholes that have good current flow, such as the flats east of the spoil islands along the Intracoastal Waterway. When fan casting the region, work the lures all the way to the bottom, as cooler days put fish down and they are not chasing offerings to the top of the water column.

When live baiting these big speckled seatrout, rig a select-sized shrimp about 3 feet from the cork to create a good presentation in the clear water. By taking a peg cork and breaking off a small part of the top, it will also "chug water" when it is "popped" every so often. This action often draws reaction strikes from nearby fish hearing the commotion. Be sure to tail-hook these crustaceans to increase casting distance and cover more water.

The lower incoming tide will bring redfish tight to the flat's edges. They will show an aggressive feeding behavior and oftentimes will have half their body exposed while rooting around the bottom. This tailing activity often creates mud clouds in the area, so the offering must be directly in front of these fish. A shrimp works best, especially if the last tail section is broken off to give off more scent. By taking a few more small chunks of shrimp and spreading them around up tide of the area, these reds will key in on the smell and capitalize on the angler's offering.

Docks are another key area redfish use during the winter. Small crabs and worms become an essential part of their diet, and the many oyster bars that sit between these structures are ideal habitat. Most of these bars will have sandy edges that circle the shells and essentially become fish highways. The darker backs of these bronze fish will stand out against the sand and can be seen easily. The shady regions underneath docks are key ambush spots and work as a haven for reds even in the worst of weather. When presenting a lure or bait in the zone, be sure the offering stays along the bottom, as this is where these fish hold. Scented plastics work well when slowly crawled to stir a muddy bottom.

Many anglers are enjoying a nearshore grouper bite that is usually reserved for deeper water. Rocks and ledges inside 30 feet have been producing plenty of keepers on days with good moving water. The key to fishing these shallow structures is to pull the fish off the piles with chum and cut bait, then bottom fish the sandy open areas. Avoid sitting on top of the wreck to alleviate the pressure in these skinnier waters.

With the water so clean and clear this time of year, increased stealth pays dividends. Downsizing to 50-pound leader also helps to produce a bite. A great way to find new bottom this time of year is to drag lures as the fish become compressed into smaller areas. Keep your eyes open also for signs of life, such as bait on top of the water or sea turtles, which hold near good structure.

Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at jim@captainhud.com.

Captains corner: Low tides compress the search zones for area anglers 12/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Luke Del Rio regains UF starting job, for now

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Luke Del Rio is once again the starting quarterback for No. 21 Florida.

    Luke Del Rio provided a needed spark when he replaced starter Feleipe Franks and rallied Florida past Kentucky.
  2. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  3. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal

    College

    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  5. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.