By ED WALKER, Times Correspondent
Published December 18, 2005
Flats fishing in the north Pinellas area has been remarkably good considering the recent weather. The day the fronts pass and the next can be difficult, but the rest have produced solid numbers of redfish and big speckled trout. Artificial baits such as soft-plastic jerkbaits and spoons have been the top producers on the flats, and live shrimp have been best around docks.
In the winter many experts switch to ultralight tackle for lure fishing. Six- or 8-pound monofilament is all you need for open-water casting for trout and reds. The thinner line allows much longer casts, and the transparency of mono helps when working clear water.
When plying the shallows pay attention to where ospreys are hunting. Although these birds often dive on mullet, ladyfish and many others, they are particularly fond of speckled trout. By setting up a drift near where the birds are working, there is a good chance of encountering good-sized specks.
If the winds whip up the flats, check out residential canals. On several occasions we found redfish stacked under docks in these areas. Most have been in the 16- to 22-inch range, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. If you pick the right dock it is not uncommon to land a dozen or more reds from the same spot. Black drum and sheepshead have been mixed in.