What's hot: The low tides at midday are about as close as you'll get to warm this week on the flats. The shallows cool faster during cold spells but warm faster as the sun rises. Areas with dark bottoms are prime spots to find reds and trout. Protected canals are warmer, too. Be sure to fish the sunny side working the docks as well as the area between them.
Tackle: Seven-foot medium light or medium action rods are the norm. Eight-pound monofilament or 10-pound braid are good choices. Add a length of 15- to 20-pound clear leader for protection from fish teeth. When working shallow water, topwater plugs can be deadly during the midday warmth. Mornings and late afternoons the fish may be hanging along the deeper edges of the flat, so a jig would be a better bet. In either case you may have to slow the retrieve to draw strikes. Whitebait can be hard to come by, but shrimp will work well.
Tip: Reds and trout seeking sun will move into extremely shallow water if the wind is down. Wading might be the only way to get within casting distance.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 560-6762.