Capt. Rich Knox, with Absolute Florida Flats Fishing Guide Service, reports with the first sets of baby cold fronts coupled with the shorter days have the water temperatures hanging below 80ºF, signaling the beginning of cooler weather to all the predator game fish on the inshore fishing flats!
Snook are migrating to their winter hangouts up the estuary systems, rivers, bayous, deep creeks, and warm water natural springs. Right now pilchards work best when available.
Redfish are on all the flats in good numbers, oyster bars, shell points, mangrove-lined barrier islands, and, in some areas, up in the rivers on deep-water docks. Big Spotted Sea Trout are moving in and using the flats from the barrier islands to the inshore main-shoreline; pilchards are still the best bait going as all these species are looking to put on some winter fat to get them through—the pilchards are full of it and loaded with protein.
Depending on the structure you're fishing, use a medium-light spinning outfit in the 7–8 foot range, rated for 10 to 20lb. braided line with a fluorocarbon leader of 4–5 feet in length from 20–30lb. teat, all tied line-to-line connections finished with a live bait hook that varies in a size that will not impede your bait from swimming naturally!