Weather watch: Fishing inshore during the winter can be tough because of fluctuating weather and water conditions. Monitor weather conditions and patterns to determine the best days and times to go. Choosing areas protected from heavy wind is key. Residential canals, the lee side of mangrove islands, rivers, creeks, and protected shallow grass flats can be productive spots. Never venture into unprotected waters when conditions are deemed unsafe.
Tide watch: Tidal activity should be monitored as well. Low, low tides will concentrate fish into deep pockets or holes. Check tide charts and find the tides that are below mean low water. They will be signified with a minus sign and usually occur around the new and full moon periods.
Technique watch: Everything slows in winter, and your technique should, too. Productive artificial baits are the ones that typically are slow movers to begin with. MirrOlures (No. 52M18), D.O.A. shrimp (color 368) and light jigs (quarter-ounce and less) are deadly. Remember this: If you think you're moving your bait too slowly, slow it more. Live shrimp hooked through the tail are great winter bait, too. For best results, rig the shrimp without weight and let it swim naturally.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 510-4376.