What's hot: The trout and sheepshead bite had been good before the most recent cold front moved in. Some larger trout have moved into the shallow flats and are being caught on scaled sardines. They are not the gator trout we caught last year at this time, but they shouldn't be far behind. Fishing the scaled sardines under a cork will help slow the bait. This is a good technique to use when the water temperature drops. The 3- and 4-pound sheepshead are showing up around the bridges and rock piles in the bay. Live shrimp broken in half on a No. 1 hook has produced the most numbers. Use just enough weight to keep it near the bottom.
Tips: There are nice redfish on the flats but getting them to eat has been tough. If you target redfish, then fish docks with live shrimp or a soft plastic. You will catch a lot of smaller ones, but there are some nice slot fish mixed in.
Timing: With three cold fronts bearing down on us this week, expect the bite to be difficult. If you are going to fish, go later in the day. Otherwise, I would take this weekend and make sure all gear is in good working condition. The prime season is just around the corner.
Mike Gore charters out of Tampa Bay. Call him at (813) 390-6600 or visit tampacharters.com.