What's hot: Endless west winds have made beach fishing for tarpon tough at best. The good news is that strong high tides, with equally strong falling tides midday, have produced outstanding snook catches. Fishing the beaches is out, but inside the passes and around the barrier islands have been hot. Bridge causeways from far up the bay to the mouth have been productive. Medium-light rods capable of tossing small whitebait a distance are a plus. If you like tossing artificials, try Cotee's root beer jig or a DOA Terrorize. Fly-rodders can have a field day using any number of glass minnow flies. Also a good tool to have in your arsenal is a rod that's a bit heavier for casting threadfin herring.
Tactics: Push pole or use a trolling motor at slow speed to sight your target. Be sure not to cast so close that you spook the fish. With a strong falling tide, schools will bust up and move along the shoreline in singles or pairs, and feed as they travel. Make your cast well ahead of your target's line of travel and let the fish move to it.
Tip: Experience will help you find the shorelines snook travel on a given tide. With this knowledge, leave the boat behind and wade. When fish are on the move, you won't have to walk far; let them come to you. They are more likely to eat without a boat bearing down on them. Look for schools of glass minnows holding near the shore. Snook love these tiny baits and will attack them, often running into inches of water. A fly-rodder can do well in this situation by throwing a Carl Hansen glass minnow.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.