High winds and cold fronts this week will keep most people off of the water. During the down time, look ahead and think about what changes will occur after this strong front passes. Overnights in the 30s will drop water temperatures on the flats into the high 40s and low 50s. Most fish are shocked by the sudden drop, especially snook. They don’t acclimate well to cold water and as we remember from years past, they can succumb to the severe cold and die. Trout will move up onto the shallow grass flats seeking warmth over the darker grasses, oyster bars and dark bottoms near seawalls, out of the wind. They will usually respond after a few days of adjusting. Shrimp laid in the potholes or suspended under a float will get a bite. However, super-slow presentations are key since metabolisms are slowed by the cold. Artificial jigs worked extremely slow across the bottom are more likely to get hit, rather than a normal quicker retrieve. Sheepshead are another species that continue to forage through colder weather. Ripping a shrimp in two and threading pieces onto a No. 2 hook is a method I use. Deeper docks and edges around oyster bars are usual hangouts for these striped bottom-feeders.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.