Windy conditions are a subtle reminder that winter soon will be in full swing.
Inshore fishing can be incredible this time of year, but it can also be frustrating. Fish are migrating and settling into a different pattern.
The timing and magnitude of fall cold fronts dictate the departure of fish from the flats to deeper water. Snook, trout and reds head for deeper holes and canals when the water starts to get cold. In a particularly warm fall, it is not unusual to catch these fish in the shallows. Trout are out of season and if caught should be handled delicately when released. Netting these fish damages their slime layer and increases the risk of infection.
Recent trips have yielded nice snook and numerous small redfish. The larger reds are hit and miss. The snook bite has slowed, but the quality has made up for quantity. Greenbacks are grouped into large schools. It might take checking a few spots to score, but one throw with a cast net makes up for lost time. They seem to be the bait of choice, but as things cool, live shrimp will become increasingly effective.
Artificial lures really come into play this time of year. Soft plastic jigs with shad- or shrimplike tails will produce all winter. Fish slowly for best results.
Residential canals offer an excellent opportunity for quality fishing out of the wind. These areas usually are a few degrees warmer than surrounding waters and tend to hold cooperative fish. With a windy forecast for the weekend, it might not be a bad idea to give your favorite canal or dock a few casts.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call 813 310-6531 or e-mail at www.snookfish.com