What's hot: With springlike conditions the past week, the flats have come to life with huge schools of redfish and snook beginning to pop baits around the mangroves. The tides this week will have midday high water and allow anglers to sight-fish reds that are working the edges of the many mullet schools. As water floods the shallows, these game fish will push up toward the treeline and ambush bait in the deeper sand pockets.
Technique: While slowly fishing through a flat, be on the lookout for mudded areas that will give away where fish feed. Working gold spoons with a white bucktail trailer is the way to find schools on the move. This type of lure simulates the pinfish that have invaded the rich grass flats. Once the water gets high enough, use a select-sized shrimp under a cork to entice redfish and snook that hold along the many oyster bars and creek mouths. Twenty-pound fluorocarbon leader is needed to help disguise the presentation and help prevent breakoffs. With afternoon winds from the southwest, anglers have been able to make long casts without pushing the school away.
Nearshore activity: With the water temperature stabilizing, there have been good reports of Spanish mackerel roaming the shallow rock piles and many larger sheepshead from 3 to 5 pounds. The water has been a little dirty, but this has helped to catch the bait-stealing convict fish.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.