Inshore anglers were treated with some astronomically low tides this week. East winds and a full moon left only enough water in the Intracoastal Waterway to safely navigate the main channel.
As we make our way through winter we will probably see this phenomenon again. The upside to this is the fish will get concentrated into smaller areas.
So if you can find where they are holding up chances are you’ll have a pretty good day. Finding them, however, may not be so easy.
You’ll definitely have to look in areas you may have never fished before, so look for those obvious signs of life, like diving birds, indicating baitfish or mullet traveling up and down a particular edge.
If nothing else, seeing some of your favorite flats empty could give you a better idea of how the fish make their way on and off with the tides.
East winds have made it possible to fish the beach for silver trout and flounder. Target near-shore artificial reefs and jetties for flounder that are lying on the bottom waiting to pounce on a live shrimp or white bait rigged on a drop-shot. Silver trout are schooled up along the beach.
The schools can be found as close as the swim buoys and as far out as a half a mile or so. Look for diving birds to help narrow the search for the trout. If there are no birds around you can simply drift with the wind and tide as you cast soft plastic jigs.
This is the time of year when schools of sheephead congregate around area bridges. The Gandy Bridge, Skyway piers and most inland bridges are great places to target sheepshead and are open in some capacity to land based anglers.
Using pieces of fresh shrimp or fiddler crabs fished on a quarter ounce jighead or a small hook and a sliding egg sinker gives you a good feel for when these crafty bait stealers get a hold of your baits.
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.