St. Pete Report By: Capt. Anthony Corcella

The cold fronts are coming to the west coast of Florida. That means more than dressing warm. It means changing gears completely in the days following the fronts.

The flats that were just loaded with gamefish are now almost barren of fish. The deeper, warmer water of the canals, channels and bigger holes that are all over the Bay will hold fish, trout especially. There is still a hot bite, if you adjust your fishing style. First thing is to slow it down. The fish still have to eat, but they will be conserving energy and will be lethargic at times. Working artificial baits at a snail’s pace will usually provide solid hookups while fishing deeper water.

Soft plastics are a proven producer as are sinking hard baits. The trick is to get down deep and stay deep. Just cast it out and let it sink, give it a twitch and wait. Repeat until you’re fighting a big trout. Top colors for the Bay are whatever makes you feel confident. In general, dark colors work best in muddy waters from a North wind. When the water clears up, switch to one of the live bait patterns. Now is a great time to use a fish attractant like Pro-Cure. Inshore Blend and Shrimp are top choices for a Winter bite. Apply some every 20 casts or so.

Another thing to remember about Winter fishing is to lighten up the gear. A 2500 to 3000 size reel on a 7-foot 6-inch med action rod loaded with 10-pound braid and a 15-pound fluorocarbon leader will get the trick done in most cases. Bigger fish can be landed on lighter gear this time of year.

If fishing the residential docks, bump up to 15-pound braid and 20-pound leader.

For the bait fishing crowd, this is the time to use shrimp. Go with hand picks or bigger for big trout. Regular size shrimp will add sheepshead, mangrove snapper and flounder to the mix. Pinch the tip of the tail off and use a 1/0 hook with a current appropriate split shot or barrel weight 1/8 or 1/4-ounce jighead and you’ll be cranking them in.

If you would like to learn how to fish the Winter bite in the Bay, book a trip with Pockets Change.