The flats fishing is hot right now in the Florida panhandle and Big Bend areas. If you can catch a nice day to get on the water, you should have no problem catching a limit of trout or redfish. The fish have moved into the shallower water and are easy to find. On a day with perfect weather, you can see the fish either hunkered in a shallow hole or moving from a shallow hole to go feed.
The cooler weather has pushed the speckled trout and redfish to shallow water. Unlike the warmer months when we have to fish in 5-6' of water, this time of year we can find fish in 3' of water or shallower. At low tide, the fish will sometimes be isolated in 1' deep holes along the flats. And while most folks don't have a boat that can go that shallow, the guys in the airboats can really clean house on these low tides.
We don't have usually have to worry about the lack of wind this time of year. But having too much wind can be an issue because it can sometimes make it difficult to cast. With the cooler water temps, we can usually catch a limit even if the wind is minimal. Our best success lately has been fishing on an incoming tide, as the water levels are rising.
As mentioned above, the fish will be hunkered in holes on the low tide and on the colder days. As more water moves into the flats towards high tide, the fish will move from these holes to feed. This is when they're pretty easy to catch, and you can usually see them moving in the water. On days when the air temps get close to 80 degrees, you'll see the fish cruising around the shallow flats feeding. When the fish are cruising and feeding, just drift with the wind and you should catch plenty.
The bite is so good right now that live bait isn't really necessary. Soft plastics are working really well, but we will use live shrimp on occasion. The presence of floating grass is still inhibiting the use of topwater plugs somewhat. But if you can find an area where there's little or no floating grass, topwater plugs are highly effective.
This is one of the best times of year for inshore fishing. If you can catch a beautiful day, get on the water and catch a limit. As temps get cooler and cooler, the fish should start moving into the creeks a little. We plan on trying some of the creeks this weekend just to see if they're in there yet. We'll be sure to provide an update on the creeks with next week's fishing report.
This fishing report is brought to you by Captain Jason Witherspoon of Spoon Fed Charters in Keaton Beach, Florida.