What's hot: As conditions cool, water temperatures will hit that magic zone for catching large speckled trout — at 65 degrees, trout of 22 inches or more are in the shallows, where anglers can sightfish them in the gin clear water of St. Joseph Sound. Find shallow flats with deeper sandy potholes for schools of trout in winter. On incoming tides, gamefish will push into the skinny water. Topwaters and suspending baits work great in the first few hours of daylight. Switch to plastic tails with one-eighth ounce jigheads to work varying depths during midday. Darker colors such as chameleon, root beer and turtle grass green blend into the surroundings in cleaner water. Drift or use a trolling motor to find fish before they take off. Select shrimp suspended under a cork can be best when the bite is slow. Pop the cork periodically; the sound generates interest and often a trout will hit it on a reaction strike.
Redfish: In winter's extreme low tides, many flats become exposed and reveal edges where redfish like to hunt. A well presented shrimp will not last long when cast to them. The key is to not land on the fish, but in front of them.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at [email protected]