The new year is warm so far and the water temps are creeping up. However, cold fronts are bound to occur and fish will react. Some species like trout and sheepshead become more active as other species become more dormant such as snook. As usual for this time of year, trout are a main target for inshore anglers. Especially in north Pinellas county where there is a migration every year of large female trout into St. Joseph Sound. Sardines have been scarce so live shrimp and artificial lures are the baits of choice. As a rule, artificial options should match the bait in the area. When fishing over darker mud and rocky bottom, a rootbeer colored jig will often work, mimicking pinfish or shrimp. In clearer water, over the lush green grasses, try a green or white and chartreuse bait which will resemble a sardine or threadfin herring. These tactics are a general rule, although I find that it works most of the time. Trout have been falling off the flats into lowtide ditches and large depressions. I like to find the exit points to a flat during the very low tides and target those areas on the outgoing tide. Redfish and snook will also fall out through these escape routes. Incoming tides can be productive as well until the tide floods the area with enough water for fish to spread out over the flats. The spoil islands have been getting hammered by a variety of anglers so the fish here are spread out requiring a lot of searching and patience. But once they are eating the action is good with several fish over the 20 inch range.

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