What's hot: Water temperature and spawn will make bait-catching tactics change over the next few weeks. Whitebait netted in deep water will have a hard time surviving when brought onto the flats, where warmer water and less oxygen kills deep-water baits. Two tips: Place a jug of frozen water in the well, or catch your bait over the flats. (They will have adjusted to the warmer conditions.) The problem with catching bait over the flats is the large schools of spawn. These small baits are almost large enough to get snagged in a quarter-inch mesh net. It's best to take a test cast on the edge of the school. If they don't snag in the net, use a quarter-inch mesh. If they do snag, move up to three-eighths inches. You can also consider netting pinfish, which are easy to catch, last longer and make great bait for catching most game fish that feed on the flats.
Tide tip: The outgoing tide before and after the new moon will be strong. This will get fish into a good feeding mood. These tides will fall in the afternoon. Keep your eyes on the weather. Most bad weather occurs late in the afternoon.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.