Debbie and her boys on some nice flats fish.

By Michael Murphy

Apollo Beach resident Michael Murphy, environmental biologist and charter captain, is starting a new series of fishing columns for the Osprey Observer. A fifth-generation Florida boy, Murphy takes a scientific approach to fishing with his charter boat, Fish This Inshore Charters. To learn more about his charters, call him at 459-2521.

The cold weather is on us now and with that comes the season of extremely low tides. This creates a great opportunity to locate great numbers of fish as they retreat to deep holes in the backcountry waters and creeks. Residential canals will hold good numbers of trout, snook and sheepshead. Find waters with good mudflats for better results as these areas tend to warm up faster and hold the heat to keep these fish active. Deep water docks will also be your go-to places during these cold front periods after they pass through. If wadding is possible, this is a great time to hit those isolated water bodies as the fish will be concentrated in the areas. Be very stealthy in your approach and throw shrimp or plastic jigs in these areas. Break out those waders and find the holes and channels.

Shrimp will be the go-to bait of choice, but artificial baits work great this time of year as well. Shrimp hooked on a 1/0 circle hook should yield good numbers of trout and redfish this time of year. Trout, reds and snook are holding well in the residential canals around docks and centers of the channels when the tides are low. You can rig them on a jig head by threading them on backwards with the head hanging loose. Pull the tail off and remove some of the shell to make them a little easier for the fish to eat and smell. You can also hook the shrimp on a 1/0 hook through the tail and add a small split shot weight to get them down to the fish. A popping cork is always fun for trout and works great on the shallow flats. Hook a shrimp or even a DOA plastic shrimp for great success.

Be very careful when fishing falling tides as the water level will fall out and potentially leave you high and dry until the next incoming tide.

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