What's hot: Speckled trout season reopens in the South region Jan. 1, allowing harvest in local waters after a two-month closure. Catch-and-release trout fishing has been excellent in recent weeks. Nearly all the fish being caught are 15 to 20 inches long. Many longer than 24 inches have also being caught regularly.
Tackle: Medium spinning tackle is all that's necessary, even for the biggest trout. Used properly, artificial lures will outperform live baits; 1/8-ounce jigheads with 3- to 5-inch plastic tails are very effective. Mashing down the barbs of lure hooks enables quick release and lessens trauma to undersized or oversized fish that will be returned to the water. With very clear water, lighter shock leader material is preferred.
Techniques: Find the deeper grassflats with sand patches and decent current flow. With the jigs, you can cover a lot of water until you find a school of fish. Trout will strike best when the lure is worked slowly just above the bottom. Have your anchor ready to deploy, and do it quietly when you hook a larger trout. If the water gets very cold, slow the presentation of your lure even more. For targeting the largest trout, try the sandy patches in depths of 11/2 to 2 feet. Make long casts in all situations to maximize your action.
Neil Taylor charters kayak fishing trips in the Tampa Bay area. He can be reached at adventurekayakfishing.com or (727) 692-6345.