What's hot: Spring patterns have finally settled in, and inshore anglers must adjust. Trout in particular have made a move from the inside spoil islands of St. Joseph Sound west toward the beaches, where they will spawn through the summer. Though a few smaller trout might stick around the grass flats along the eastern shore, the majority of larger female trout have migrated toward the potholes and troughs near the passes. Often while fishing for snook in these areas, the big "gator" trout will hit a bait drifted with the tide. Jetties and grass patches along the beaches are also favorite habitats of trout. Moving tides, in or out, are best. Throw out a few chum baits and wait for fish to give away their location. Trout will make small boils and pops on the surface while chasing the free offerings. Don't pull the bait away from a striking fish. Allow the fish to tighten the line before reeling.
Tip: Seagulls and terns can be a nuisance while using live baits. Use a small splitshot 2 feet above the hook to keep the baits below the surface and in the strike zone of the fish rather than that of the birds. When the tides are moving swiftly, splitshots are effective in keeping bait near the bottom.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and through his website at captbrian.com.