What's hot: With the holiday season, many will get new fishing gear. New artificials have outproduced live bait lately. Soft plastics and crankbaits have topped the list. The speckled sea trout bite has been phenomenal throughout St. Joseph Sound.
Tips: Lower water in the mornings has pushed fish way off the flats into deeper dropoffs. It has been a good rule to start in at least 4 feet of water and work back to shallower grassflats while fan-casting the area. In cooler conditions, trout will school up tightly. Work the jigs very slowly. Darker jigs, especially turtlegrass green, are the ticket over gin-clear waters from Dunedin north. Lighter colors are attracting bluefish.
Technique: Weighted shrimp have attracted sheepshead and flounder off sandy potholes around spoil islands. Back-country canals and creeks have snook attacking crankbaits worked along seawalls. Use plugs that run right to the bottom and kick up the mud, which stirs up attention as well as predators waiting to ambush easy meals.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.