What's hot: The warmer weather. Water temperatures have climbed 15 degrees from the near-record lows of early this month. Cold, blustery winds from the Arctic dropped the temperatures into the low 50s, making it tough to find inshore species, which also made it difficult to find bait. The return of southerly winds has made water temperatures climb back into the mid 60s, and higher on shallow grass flats. That makes it easier to find schools of redfish and trout.
The return: Schools of redfish have returned to the flats around the Pinellas Point area. I could not find any schools early in the month. The wind kept the tide so low that the flats remained empty of water for most of the day. Last week was a different story. Flat, calm tropical conditions made it easy to find the usual schools in the areas in which I have found them in past Februarys.
Careful approach: The lack of wind and strong tidal flow have caused the water to become very clear. Be cautious approaching a school of redfish. The water is so clear, I can see fish running off when I attempt to make a cast. They will not tolerate fast movement, anything thrown in the middle of the school and the use of a trolling motor on anything but the lowest setting. I shut down a good hundred yards before the area I want to fish, then use the wind to help move my boat. I have my shallow-water anchor ready to deploy immediately once I find a school.
Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at captainrobgorta.com or (727) 647-7606.