What’s hot- With the water temperatures dropping into the upper sixties, many larger speckled trout have moved inshore and the cool water will also bring the grouper in closer to the beaches off good hard bottom. The shallows of north Pinellas county are holding good numbers of fish where sandy potholes are mixed in with rich turtlegrass. Artificials are beginning to work well, as anglers can cover large areas while drift fishing. Pumpkin slammers are working well when rigged with an 1/8 ounce weedless jighead. Pearl colored tails will symbolize the whitebait that is covering the beaches. Bucktail jigs and shallow crankbaits will also work well with this type of presentation. As for using livebait, a smaller sardine rigged with an adjustable cork can be popped at the surface to entice the larger female trout that have moved in. These breeder-sized specks will also hold in dropoffs along the flats on lower tide levels. On higher tides, work inside the no-motor zones where these fish will move up and take advantage of the small feeding window before the tide falls again.
As the grouper inch towards shore a little, anglers looking to hook into a keeper before the seasons ends will want to concentrate on aggressive looking rockpiles in the 20 foot depths. In this range of depth many stone crab lines are found and can often give away the best areas, as crab is often caught better on natural hard bottom. Live pinfish will work best to catch the larger gags. When fishing in shallower terrain for grouper, work off the structure and allow the chum to pull these aggressive fish away from the rocks to increase the landing ratio.
Season Closures – Gulf Grouper- Closes Nov. 15th
– Speckled Trout- South Region – Closed Nov.- Dec.