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Fish Tales
Cold fronts make for tough conditions

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It’s times like these that I am so grateful to be an inshore guide versus offshore, as so much wind, plummeting water temps and a closed gag grouper season is making it hard for the big boat captains to make a living.

Meanwhile back on the flats, a warming trend has spurred on a redfish, trout, pompano and ladyfish bite that over the past few days has offered some excellent fall fishing.

As I fished my way through the first real cold front of the year I noticed a few things that helped me understand Mother Nature’s effects on fishing, as we brace for the seemingly endless barrage of cold fronts, maybe these tidbits will help you understand and be more effective at catching fish in the face of adversity.

Water clarity – when the wind howls straight out of the north directly following a passing cold front the Intracoastal Waterway can get pretty dirty. Most people will agree that a north wind is the hardest to fish around here just because there are few places to seek protection on a wind-blocked shoreline. Fish are not happy in dirty, muddy water. Even if you fish a spot that you’ve had great success at recently but the water resembles coffee with cream, don’t stay there long if you’re not getting a bite. Those fish are probably still there or somewhere nearby but they’re probably not going to bite too good until it cleans up again.

This week’s new moon will give us some excellent tides for redfish and trout. Target the redfish on the mid-morning incoming tides; look for the schools of mullet as they make their way onto the flats. Use gold spoons or weedless soft plastic jerk baits in and around the mullet. Also, a live select shrimp suspended under a float will be too tempting for the reds to refuse.

Trout are staging up at their usual wintertime haunts. Target spoil islands north of the Dunedin causeway on the afternoon outgoing tides. Soft plastic jigs in a natural shrimp color rigged on a quarter ounce jig head have taken everything from trout, pompano and ladyfish to some 3- to 4-pound bluefish this past week.

Until next week – get bent!

Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at
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