We haven't had those long streaks of cold weather that we usually see this time of year, until now. Projected overnight temperatures in the 40s this weekend will cool our shallow bays much more quickly than the deeper gulf. Consequently, cold-sensitive fish such as cobia, jack crevalle, pompano and trout seek the warm-water outflows of local power plants. Cobia are the power plant prize. The best fishing for them occurs after the first couple of fronts. Ideal fishing conditions for cobia usually occur a couple of days after the front moves through. That's when we see those bluebird days without much wind. Cobia can be spotted at great distances from a tower, often seen cruising along the backs of stingrays and manatees. Those fish can sight-casted to and caught on artificial lures and or live bait. Try shallow-diving plugs and soft plastic eel imitations rigged on a half-ounce jig head. For live bait, a good sized pinfish suspended a few feet below a cork usually will get a bite. Cobia can still be caught on those less-than-perfect days. If sight-casting is not an option, anchoring and chumming with cut sardines and a frozen chum block might encourage cobia to swim right behind the boat. Don't pass on making a cast into those big schools of jacks that can be seen busting baits on the surface or humping up huge mounds of water as they bully their way around the channel edges.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.