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Captain’s Corner: Cooler water will heat up action both inshore and offshore

By Jim Lemke, Times Correspondent

The cold fronts rolling in next week will drop water temperatures to the mid to upper 70s at night and will fire up the bite inshore and offshore. Snook fishing is on fire with these cooler nights. We have been finding them around and up the major rivers, creeks and residential docks. A ton of smaller snook are mixed in with some overslot snook. The best bait is still a scaled sardine or whitebait, with a white 4-inch jerk bait coming in second. Redfishing is just starting to get better on the flats. I look for mullet schools in 1 to 3 feet of water on the flats. Use your trolling motor to get in position and set up. The best baits are live baits like sardines or pinfish, or artificials like jerk baits or paddle tail jigs. Fall always means big schools of kingfish and mackerel in the bay and off the beaches, along with some drag-screaming fun. I use a 2X long shank hook in a 3/0 and a short piece of 60- or 80-pound fluorocarbon leader. Some of the most popular ways to catch kings are using live bait such as shad, ladyfish, blue runners and, my favorite for smoker kings, slow trolling a mackerel.

Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 and at [email protected]