What's hot: Shallow saltwater species can be difficult this time of year. Frequent cold fronts, windy overcast days and unreliable tides all make it hard to establish a pattern for success. I often see boats anchored in one spot where they once succeeded, waiting for the fish that aren't there.
Tips: Pick a grassflat that has been productive in the past, or has a lot of bird activity, and work your boat in deeper water parallel to the grass edge. A bow-mounted electric motor, occasionally run very slowly, helps. Cast to the deep edges of the grass and let your fly, usually weighted, sink close to the bottom; retrieve slowly. Try to accurately hit any irregularities in the grass edge where trout and reds wait for easy prey. These lethargic fish must have the fly in front of their face to react. If you're very successful, repeat at the same depth.
Technique: Repeat the drift, but drift the grass edge and cast shallower. Most casts will be over grass; target sand holes, lighter colored areas in the grass that are a little deeper. Again let the fly sink. Large trout and reds will use these as ambush points. Longer casts cover more water and increase success. Baitfish fly patterns in chartreuse and white, chartreuse and pink, and black over red are good choices.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727)504-8649.