© St. Petersburg Times, published December 9, 2002
Fishing for speckled trout in the winter is at the top of the list of things I like to do.
Every winter since the net ban, concentrations of big trout 20 inches or longer have been available, and catches of 10-50 have been fairly common. The trick is to find them, because they aren't everywhere.
I stand on a small bow platform, use a long handle to control the trolling motor, and move quietly along spoil islands, oyster bars, docks, and shallow grass flats. It is amazing how much easier it is to spot fish this way. At first, it may be hard to differentiate between mullet, redfish, ladyfish and trout, but with practice you will learn the difference. Look for trout in potholes, in the grass especially. Their slender profile gives them away. Also, look for sand stirred up on the bottom, which indicates that a fish just darted away. Have the anchor, with as short a rope as possible, ready to ease over as soon as you see the trout. If you are quick and quiet, the fish often will stop within casting range. If not, make a note of the spot and try it later.
With each front that passes, trout fishing will get better. The latter part of December through February seem to be best from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs.
-- Capt. Wendell Akins charters the Drifter out of Crystal Beach (Palm Harbor). Call (727) 785-3018, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.