What's sometimes hot: The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent pattern of cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. (Luckily, the bite has been better in the afternoon.) The week ahead should be pretty good as the water and air temperature are expected to warm up a bit.
Tactics: The bite on the incoming tide has been best. You will want to fish the flats outside of the passes and creek mouths until you have enough water to move in. Using shrimp has produced a good bite on trout, small redfish and sheepshead. If you are lucky enough to find scaled sardines, use them. Fishing with them has produced some great catches of bigger fish. Meanwhile, redfish are holding tight under the mangrove trees as the tide rises. If you are unable to get your bait up under the branches, you might want to try throwing some chummers out. This pulls them out into the open water and makes them more likely to eat.
What else: Bluefish and mackerel seem to be following the bait back to the bay. While fishing the flats off Apollo Beach, I have come across some nice pompano. The smaller blacktips also are all over the place near TECO and provide great action on light tackle.
Mike Gore charters out of Tampa Bay. Call him at (813) 390-6600 or visit tampacharters.com.