Get out your #6 circle hooks, split shot and 20lb. fluorocarbon leader material, and a thermos of hot tea to enjoy bundled up in your windbreaker. Sheepies dominated the cold water bite with scads of fatties reported filling the larders of stalwart cool weather anglers. Small morsels od shrimp, crabs, and sandworms were the top picks; also try wiggler worms in a jam. The best sheepie bite is just as the high tide begins to slack, about an hour before floodout, and just as it begins to run out.
Reds are willing but need to be encouraged to biting with bitty chunks of chum shrimp. Mix up some cat food or shrimp bits with oatmeal and make an ersatz barnacle scraping. The Sheepie chum works on snapper and reds as well. Black drum are schooling up, so keep an eye on the channels and deeper flats, get a couple of busted up blue crabs, mole crabs, or a big pink shrimp; you'll get into a tug-a-war. Black drum slot size is 24 inches; contrary to popular Florida lore, they're mighty tasty. Just ask any Louisiana "coon ass angler"or Texas flats cowboy.Check your water temp feature on your depth finder and look for any warmer water—potholes at the creek mouths and around the oyster bars during any midday warm-ups.
Snook are thick in the creeks and rivers but pretty much asleep with the water temps in the low sixties. Some action reported with juvie liners eating shrimp on the outgoing tides if there's a slight warm-up.
We caught sheepies, snappers, and bluetail reds at the truck-stop docks in Estero. Trout are on a chew if you can locate clean water; best action up in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha. Charlotte Harbor had a good bite across the board for trot, sheepies, reds, and snapper when you could get outa the wind. Big sleepy snook reported at El Jobean.
Capt. Ron Kowalyk: 239-267-9312