With the end of December and weekly cold fronts likely on the way, it seems fishing is heating up for trout and redfish. Winter fishing is still one of the best times of year to fish in the area. All you need are a bag of soft plastics and some jig heads or live shrimp. One reason I like fishing in the winter is you can take kids out and catch a lot. The most popular winter fishing here is the grass flats or creeks for trout in 3-6 feet. This is the time we catch the bigger trout, more than 20 inches, plus it's not uncommon to get big gator trout. The most productive method of fishing the grass flats is using shrimp under a popping cork or throwing soft plastics on ⅛- to ¼-ounce jig heads. This can be the most exciting way to fish, but it's also a very effective way. Whether you want to throw jigs or use live shrimp, you're going to catch fish. Another way is fishing the residential canals and around docks. Water in the canals is up to 5 degrees warmer due to the mud bottom and large boats tied up to the docks, all generating heat, which attract all kinds of fish such as sheepshead, redfish, trout and snook. I use a split shot on my leader just about 18 inches above the No. 1 circle hook.
Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.