Improving weather has increased the bite dramatically in the North Suncoast region. Snook and trout are top targets. The morning end of the outgoing and the first couple of hours of the incoming tides have been best. Concentrating on creek mouths after last weekend's rain has been paying off with plenty of small snook and a few big ones. Free-lining pilchards along nearby docks and oyster mounds has been the pattern. Rigging up with 40-pound fluorocarbon leader connected to at least 15-pound braid allows you to tighten the drag and pull the fish from structure. Quality-sized trout are holding over deep secondary flats. These flats often are found on the outer edge of big no-motor zone flats. Look for areas that have a good mix of sand and grass. Cast top-water plugs in the early morning and switch to a shallow subsurface twitch bait when the sun gets higher. These big fish are switching their diet from shrimp to fish, making them easy targets with a free-lined pilchard when a productive area is found. Finding enough pilchards, also called whitebait, to chum the fish into a frenzy has been difficult. Cast-netting along bridge shadow lines in the predawn hours has been best, however, chumming the deep grass areas around the inlets is becoming more productive. The beach swash channel has been productive, too, as long there's an offshore wind and clean conditions along the beach.
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.