The Tampa Bay Times

 Weather is stabilizing and has become warm again in West Central Florida. Although the water temperature had dropped into the low to mid 50s, it has rebounded quickly to the low 60s for the time being. This quick warm-up will undoubtedly get fish moving and seeking meals before the next cold front inevitably comes our way. During this time of year, most anglers will switch to live shrimp as an option for bait. Shrimp are slow and are an easy meal for fish, and most species eat them. However, pinfish are also a hearty winter time bait if you can find them. Recently, I was able to position my clients on a shallow flat, protected from the wind, with several dark and muddy depressions. We cast large shrimp as well as medium-size pinfish a long distance into the areas that had mullet schools working through. It didn’t take long to hook several redfish that happened to be foraging with the mullet on the dark, muddy bottom. Trout, and sheepshead were also caught but only on the shrimp. Artificial baits are also very effective this time of year. The biggest mistake most anglers make is working artificials too fast. You must slow your retrieve, allowing lethargic fish to easily catch their prey rather than chasing. Again, this is why shrimp are so productive this time of year. They move slowly and are an easy meal. It’s imperative that you mimic their movements when using artificial lures.