What's hot: When water temperatures drop into the 60s, fishing conditions start to change. Game fish move to areas where the temperature is warmest. Fish that normally hang on the flats move to the nearest drop-offs. Others head to the residential canals that have dark bottoms and little water flow. Dark bottom means the canal has a mud bottom that holds heat. A lack of water flow keeps the water heated by the sun inside the canal. The rest of the game fish move to the rivers and the back parts of the mangrove shoreline. The best way to locate the fish is to slowly idle close to the shoreline until you see fish sunning in the shallows.
Tips: Snook are the hardest species to catch when the temperature drops. You might find them sunning along a drop-off, but don't look for them to strike your bait quickly. Most need a slow and quiet presentation to get them to eat. Use light tackle and slowly move your bait or lure close to the fish. Give the snook time to take interest. Redfish schools start to thin. Most reds will be in the 18- to 24-inch range. The best time to target them is during low tide. They move to the potholes close to the outside of the flat and stay there for protection until the tide rises.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.