Cold fronts continue to move through our area of the Nature Coast making it difficult to get on the water. We are getting brief "windows" to get out and fish. The fish have been hard to find at times with the night's temperatures dropping into the 40s and then getting up into the high 60s during the day. The winter low tides are also forcing anglers to plan their trips more carefully since it's much easier to navigate and get to where the fish are when there is water.
When there is such a big gap in temperatures and tides, anglers should be ready to adjust their tactics accordingly to find fish. First thing to do is to fish where the fish are. For example, on a cold morning you need to target areas that have shallow flats with deeper holes. These shallow flats warm up quickly and the holes provide slightly warmer water that will hold fish. The best bite continues to be around the high tide.
Fish near springs, and be on the lookout for mullet. If you find mullet jumping and moving about an area, there is a very strong possibility other species like trout, red fish, snook, black drum, and sheepshead are there also. Be sure to over fish and cover an area completely before trying another spot since some species will be slightly lethargic in cooler water.
When it is cold it is important to remember to slow everything down. If I am fishing a jig, then I try to almost drag it across the bottom with small short "jerks." A large select shrimp under a small cork has been very productive for trout and small red fish on recent trips. Have the shrimp approximately 2-3 feet below the cork so it is suspended in the water column. I often make a far cast and slowly work the shrimp back to me like a lure by gently popping the cork.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson operates Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Reach him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581.