I hope last weekend's major cold front will not be a trend for us, as we're set for a normal winter forecast the next several days. Taking advantage of the one good weather day last week, we maximized our efforts by fishing the afternoon incoming tide, in which the water temperature rose five degrees in six hours. These afternoon tides produce fish this time of year, redfish and trout especially. Upper-slot sized redfish hold around shallow docks and oyster mounds along with more heavily fished no-motor flats throughout the Intracoastal Waterway. Live select shrimp are a must most days to entice these fish to feed, but consecutive warm days will get them moving around enough to eat a jig. Trout are bunched up with the lower water temperatures. Target low-tide dropoffs. Look for areas where the hard bottom edge of the flat quickly tapers to a mud bottom basin. These spots let the trout search the edge for food on the incoming tide while giving them refuge from the cold water in the deeper basin. Channel edges are good places to find these attributes, so it's a good idea to hit them early before boat traffic picks up. Slowly bounce dark scented soft-plastics through the area, or free-line live shrimp, adding a split shot at times if the current or wind is not allowing for the shrimp to gain any depth.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.