Tomlinson: Bite turns on before, after cold fronts

Thanksgiving is approaching and anglers in this area of the Nature Coast can give thanks for the fantastic Fall fishing.
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Tom Taylor holds a 30-inch gag grouper he caught last week with Capt. Keith Tomlinson. KEITH TOMLINSON

The “skinny water” bite continues to be great across the entire region. Big trout, redfish, and the occasional snook are feeding best on both sides of a high tide. The only thing that seems to slow the bite down is when a passing cold front moves through. These fronts can give the fish a case of lockjaw, but the fishing is usually very active before and after the front.

I find the best bite to be just before the windy and rainy conditions of a approaching front arrive. This 24-36 hour window is when the fish seem to really be on the move and feeding.

Still plan your trips around the most favorable tides to increase your chances of putting fish in the cooler. Once the front settles in, it usually takes a few days for the fish to start feeding again. A good sign is when the mullet become more active.

Finding fish after a front can be challenging at first, but I like to start with the obvious. Mullet are a great indicator that other species like trout, red fish, and snook are nearby. Target structure like rocky bottom, grass, mangrove shoreline, and sawgrass. Work systematically through these areas with “search baits” like a 1⁄16-1⁄8 ounce jig, a gold spoon, or even a top water plug like a skitter walk. These lures are effective because they cover a lot of ground quickly. When I locate fish, I quietly anchor down with my power pole and work that area thoroughly.

The shallow water grouper bite continues to be very productive in 8-12 feet of water. Trolling plugs or casting baits to structure are both tactics that catch fish. Dec. 3 marks the end of grouper season for the next six months, so take advantage of the little time we have left.

As we move through winter the air and water temperatures will drop. Look for fish to push further back into the creeks and closer to the many springs in this area of the Nature Coast.

Good luck out there and tight lines!

Capt. Keith Tomlinson runs Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Contact him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352) 238-3581.

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