Weekly cold fronts will push fall to winter much more quickly than in weeks past. Cooler water temps as well as windy conditions have made it difficult to pattern baitfish over the past few days, so live shrimp have come in handy the past few days. The best thing about live shrimp is that everything eats them, giving you the opportunity to hook into more crustacean minded species such as pompano and sheepshead, two types of fish that would be off the table if you were solely relying on baitfish.
Free-lining live shrimp with an up-current cast and letting it drift through the potential strike zone unimpeded by the drag of the line will allow you to fool even the wariest of predatory feeders. For a variety of fish, target deep grass beds in 3- to 6-feet of water. These deep flats are often found near the edge of the main channel as well as the many spoil islands throughout the Intracoastal Waterway. Given the right water clarity and tidal movement one would expect to hook into such species as sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano and ladyfish on any given cast.
Another situation perfectly tailored for a live shrimp is the rare, but much more common encounter this time of year, is tailing redfish. Extreme low tides will entice reds to root the bottom on the outside edge of the flat. Getting out of the boat and quietly stalking these spooky feeders is a real passion for some inshore anglers. Taking a select or even jumbo sized shrimp and hooking it through the tail so that the hook point isn’t quite exposed will allow you to fish the shrimp fairly weed-less, letting you cast beyond the fish and reel it back to it, so the sound of the bait hitting the water doesn’t spook the fish.
And last but not least would be the overall effectiveness of a fresh shrimp on the crustacean crushing sheepshead. Drop down a small shrimp or a piece of a larger shrimp next to bridge fenders and pilings and you’re sure to attract the attention of this tasty fish. These fish often bite very light, so light line and just enough weight to hold bottom will allow you to detect the strike. When the wind blows this is one fish you can usually target on all but the worst of days.
Until next week, get bent!
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.