What's hot: With cooler temperatures having moved in, the speckled trout bite has increased dramatically the past couple of weeks. The majority of them have been 18-22 inches with a few in excess of 24 inches being caught. With what has been caught lately, the redfish population in north Pinellas County will have plenty of keeper size fish in the spring. There are stacks of smaller reds on every oyster bar and spoil island on higher tides.
Tackle: Get to the tackle shop early and pick up select size shrimp to net larger redfish. With water so clear, the increased size allows the extra long cast when tail-hooked and helps with tentative fish. Long eel-style soft plastics, in turtlegrass green and motor oil, have produced great bites when rigged with a one-eighth-ounce jig head. The trout have jumped all over this combination on grassflats. Another great search tool this time of year is a silver spoon with a white bucktail trailer that covers all levels of the water column.
Tactics: Winter is the artificial angler's favorite time. Sightcasting to fish in sandy potholes works well when deadsticking a smelly soft plastic shrimp or jerkbait. Let the redfish find the lure by sense of smell and it will be less reluctant to attack an angler's offering. Trout, on the other hand, are hitting plastics on a reactionary bite. A popping action while retrieving plastics quickly has proven to catch more specks. Be sure to still work all parts of the water depth.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.