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By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 6, 2001
The trout in lower Tampa Bay are starting to react to the recent warming of area waters. They were hanging over the edges of the grass piles that dot the outside of the flats. All you had to do was find a dark spot in green water and drag a jig along the bottom to catch trout. Now that the water is a little warmer, the trout are moving up onto the flats during the afternoon incoming tide. Most incoming tides this time of year don't bring enough water onto the flats. This will keep the trout closer to the edge, where there is a deep water area they can return to.
Artificial shrimp, root beer jigs, strawberry sluggers and live shrimp are working great, as long as we stay in areas that have a strong flow. When the tide slacks, the trout stop biting. When the action slows, we'll head north, where the tide already has changed and the water has good flow. If you don't know where to fish or don't want to make the run north, you can head to the Skyway Bridge and fish the slack tide for sheepshead. Live shrimp will work if you dice them up and chum the pilings first. Then put a chunk of shrimp on a No. 1 hook and cast into the spot you chummed. If the tide is moving slowly, use a small split shot to keep your bait near the bottom. When the tide picks up, it's time to go back to the trout.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.