The Tampa Bay Times

Winter patterns are definitely settling in, in northern Pinellas County. Cold overnight temperatures have dropped the water temperature quite a bit over the last few days. When this occurs, I will focus on backcountry fishing over darker bottom to produce bites. When it comes to fishing the backwater canals, I like to choose seawalls and docks that face eastward in the morning, allowing the rising sun to heat the water up more quickly. I often find snook warming just outside of the protection of docks on dark grass and muddy bottom. Often times, I will return to a location later in the day if they are not responding on the cool mornings. Sometimes the changing of the tide or midday sun will stimulate them to eat. Sheepshead, trout, and redfish are all a lot more cooperative in the cooler temperatures. Live shrimp slowly hopped along the bottom have been working very well. On warmer days when the winds are light, the water is very clear making it easy to see fish out on the open flats, but they see us too. Keeping a good distance away while targeting mullet schools has been very productive for redfish. Pieces of cut ladyfish strategically placed around the mullet schools is one of my favorite methods for finding and catching redfish in the winter months. If I don’t have ladyfish to use, I have been using live shrimp, sardines and a few specific artificial lures. Shrimp imitations and also small root beer colored grub tails on an 1/8 ounce jig head have been attracting a multitude of different species.