Cool weather has led to some very hot fishing in both the deep and shallow parts of the St. Andrew Bay.
Up on the flats, redfish are hanging out with their noses in the mud – tailing on low negative tides in their search for small crabs, shrimp and baitfish. There are also lots of redfish mixed in with mullet schools right now. The next time you’re running around the bay looking for fish and you see mullet working and jumping on the flats, it’s definitely worth a stop to check out.
On the higher parts of the tide, look for the redfish to be laid up in potholes or cruising down the shoreline. Several baits have been working very well but a root beer colored 3” plastic shad tail has been killing it.
The speckled trout are steadily working their way into the bayous with each passing cold front. Many of the fish that moved in first were on the small side but, with the water temperatures dropping, the bigger fish will start moving soon. For now, you can still target the big trout on the flats in close proximity to the mouths of creeks or bayous. I often find quality fish hanging out with schools of small redfish or mullet. Suspending plugs are especially lethal on big sow trout.
Big bull reds are starting to stack up in deeper water around the bridges and other deep structures throughout the bay. Moving water is essential for them to be in the mood to eat, but if they are in feeding mode, they are easy to catch and will eat almost anything. I like to keep it simple, and the best bait for me to use is a jerk bait on a ½ ounce jighead.
Many of the places I’ve been catching bull reds have also held grouper. When targeting grouper, I try to work the lure to within a couple of feet from the bottom and as close to the structure as I can without getting hung up in it. Using sonar and GPS to position your boat correctly for fishing the structure is critical. Instead of dropping right on top of the spot, I like to position down current and throw my lure up current far enough to get down to the bottom as it reaches the structure. Slowly lifting the bait a couple of feet and allowing it to fall back to the bottom has yielded most of the better bites.