What's hot: With tide levels getting higher, redfish are beginning to school up and can be found roaming grass flats in search of food around peak tidal phases. The south winds created by passing fronts will push additional water up around mangroves and docks and give access to areas that redfish have not hunted in a while. Gamefish will work in among the trees to find crabs, worms and other desired meals. Anglers need to use live shrimp or scented plastics to entice these fish into eating. Work the open pockets that allow a cast up into the shadows. "Deadstick" the lure so reds will trace the scent and easily feed. New and full moons offer the best opportunities to find larger redfish. Work the beginning of incoming tides along drop-offs and channel edges that lead into bayous and rivers. Silver mullet schools are abundant throughout St. Joseph Sound and can play a key role in finding small schools of reds in common areas.
Tactics: A good pair of polarized sunglasses is a valuable tool in late winter. Anglers can cut through glare and find fish that are easily disguised among the turtlegrass and oyster terrain. While stationary, speckled trout and reds merely look like a small dark object. Smith Optics and Costa Del Mar both make a green lens that work well in the shallows.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.