Bluebird skies and high pressure have made it harder to get a strong bite the past few days. Clear and calm waters make it easier to spot fish, but they can see and feel your presence, too, especially in the shallow, more vulnerable depths where redfish and snook are commonly found during the winter. Downsizing tackle is imperative. I use 10- to 15-pound braided line, 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and smaller No. 1 hooks in general. Most importantly, position yourself for the longest cast possible, with winds behind you for the most distance. As long as fish are unaware of the presence of a boat or even a wading angler, they’re more likely to react naturally in pursuit of a meal. As sardines and other baits are harder to come by, artificials and live shrimp are the preferred baits. Topwater lures are best in the early morning or late afternoon while light is lowest. Midday sun prevents most fish from coming to the surface and risk exposure, so a deeper-diving soft plastic with a ⅛- to ¼-ounce jighead is necessary. With live shrimp, using a cork with a few feet of leader below is effective.

Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and