What's hot: With changing weather testing anglers' skill over the past couple of weeks, the dramatic swings in water temperature have made versatility key while fishing the flats. Having different artificial tackle options and a bucket of live shrimp will help coax finicky trout and redfish. The shallow waters along the main shore or inside bayous are producing more quality fish. Look for deeper, sandy potholes in 2-3 feet of water. A swifter current will also attract larger female trout. These larger specks are attacking soft plastics rigged with a weedless one-eighth ounce jig head. The darker colors help to blend into the surroundings and cause a reactionary bite when bounced along the bottom back to the boat. Redfish are using oyster bars and channel dropoffs to feed on the incoming tides. A select-sized shrimp free-lined with a No. 4 split shot keeps the bait in the strike zone longer. Often anglers will move the crustacean and not allow it to attract a nearby redfish. The longer the bait stays in the target zone, the more likely a predator is to find it.
Wind aid: When the wind has the boat drifting quickly, set out a pair of 3-gallon buckets to slow the boat and angle it according to the direction desired. By drifting edges of grassflats and throwing lures covering all levels of the water column, a pattern where the fish are can be established and repeated.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.