Winter-like conditions over the past week will put the brakes on any thoughts of an early spring. Near freezing overnight temperatures earlier in the week dropped the water temperature substantially.
A week ago scaled sardines were showing up at the bridges during the night and were the bait of choice for big spotted sea trout in our northern county. Now the thought of a live well brimming with frisky baits is only a distant memory.
The trout are very much still there and alternate baits such as live select shrimp or small grass grunts will be the bait of choice until the water temperature gets back up into the upper 60s.
Target the incoming tide around many of the spoil islands north of the Dunedin Causeway. These islands are quite popular lately and getting there early and leaving early has been the best approach.
Warming temps and improving tides should give anglers a good chance for getting into some redfish over the weekend and through the first part of next week. Working mullet schools with weed-less jerk baits or cut pieces of ladyfish or pinfish on the lower tidal stages along many of the no-motor-zone flats has been productive all winter.
Also, now that were starting to get some higher tides as we progress into spring, look for the fish to move way up to the mangrove shoreline on the high tide.
Small oyster clumps attract early season reds as they are full of crabs. Cast live shrimp under a float right on top of the oyster mound. Move quickly as time for this pattern is limited to the amount of water on the flat. Once a productive oyster mound is located itís been common to pull a few reds off of it before the others spook.
Sheepshead fishing around bridges and jetties has been somewhat slow as of late. Your best bet for putting a few sheepshead in the boat and possibly a few bonus black drum would be to target deep docks at the lower tidal stages.
A good canal will have several productive docks so itís only a matter of hopping around a bit.
In colder conditions especially youíll want to target those docks that get plenty of sun throughout the day. Fresh shrimp lightly weighed pitched up around the pilings will let you know pretty quickly if anyoneís home.
Until next week, get bent!
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at email@example.com. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.