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Captain's Corner

What's hot: With cooler temperatures moving in, the speckled trout bite has increased dramatically the past week. Most have been in the 18- to 20-inch range, with a few more than 22. Indications are the redfish population in north Pinellas 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.

Tips: Getting to the tackle shop early and picking up select size shrimp will net larger redfish. With the water clear, the increased size allows the extra long cast when tail-hooked and helps with tentative fish. Long eel-style soft plastics in turtle-grass green and motor oil have produced great bites when rigged with a one-eighth-ounce jig head. Trout have jumped all over this combination while drifting grass flats. Another great search tool is a silver spoon with a white bucktail trailer that covers all levels of the water column.

Tactics: Winter months are the artificial-users' favorite time. Sight-casting to fish laid up in sandy potholes works well when dead-sticking a smelly soft plastic shrimp or jerkbait. Let the redfish find the lure by smell; they will be less reluctant to attack an angler's offering. Trout, on the other hand, are hitting the plastics on a reactionary bite. A popping action while retrieving plastics quickly has caught more specks. 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 at jim@captainhud.com.

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