What's hot: Trout fishing is red hot from Clearwater to Hudson. Large schools are showing up in their normal February spots. The cold weather in December and January made for tough fishing along the west coast, but the fishing improved during the recent warmer weather.
Where to look: Trout are in several areas, including the shallow flats around the barrier islands from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. Two of my favorites are Three Rooker and Anclote Key. Fish in those areas will lie in the deeper holes on the low tides and move up on the shallow grass flats with incoming tides. Most of the creeks along the coast that have deep holes with good current flow are holding large gator trout also. Salt Springs, Rocky Creek and Sand Bay have been very productive this past week.
Best baits: The best baits have been artificials such as small jigs with a plastic swim tail, small crank baits and Texas-rigged plastic jerk baits. You can also catch trout on live baits such as shrimp, small pinfish and creek chubs. When fishing live bait, I like to use a popping cork or a float to keep the bait from hiding in the grass. Trout can be spooked in clear, shallow water, so use a stealth approach. Use a trolling motor or a push pole to creep up on them. Also, a reminder trout season is closed during February north of Howard Park, located in Tarpon Springs.
Mike Manning runs Action Fishing Adventures out of Tarpon Springs. Call him toll-free at 1-800-644-5940.