Stable temperatures and mild overnight conditions have allowed the water in north Pinellas County to return to the low 60s. This has also had a great effect on fish as they thaw out from temperatures that quickly dipped the water into the upper 40s a week ago. The cool down occurred so quickly that most fish didn’t have time to escape or find deeper water, which resulted in a few deaths, mostly snook. Although only a few were reported in the area, it’s always devastating when our beautiful resources that are already struggling can succumb to freezing temperatures.
Luckily things have turned around and fishing has also. Spotted sea trout are a main target for recreational anglers this time of year and as soon as the waters temperatures climbed to reach the upper 50’s and low 60’s, the trout turned on again. Live shrimp under a float or freelined are very productive, however sometimes a jerkworm on a 1/8 once jig head can be deadly. Often, I will use a soft plastic lure to locate the school of fish and then use the shrimp to keep them from being spooked by the constant barrage of casts, especially on calm and clear days.
Trout should continue to migrate into St. Joseph Sound as they usually do this time of year. Redfish are hanging around the main shore in residential canals under docks and along seawalls seeking warmth. However, on higher tides there are still a few to target near the mangroves of the barrier islands, especially along the oyster beds. Again shrimp are working well for the reds and the occasional sheepshead.