What's hot: East winds returned after a weeklong onslaught of onshore winds and soaking rains. Beach conditions improved dramatically the past couple of days. Clearing water and light seas have brought baitfish back along the beaches. Using a quarter-inch mesh cast net will prevent gilling any smallish pilchards needed to help make a good bite better by adding a few handfuls of free chummers into the mix. Find diving pelicans just after sunup to get to the right area to net the bait. Then look for small dimples on the water's surface resembling large raindrops. A sufficient livewell is needed to keep a good quantity of bait alive all day; a 30-gallon round livewell with an 1,100-gph pump should hold 200 baits comfortably.
Where to fish: Cooling water will help flats fishing, but the hotter action will still be nearshore. Jetties, rock piles and hard bottom hold a variety of species. Fishing around the structure on the bottom will bring a mixed bag of flounder, trout and the occasional redfish. Meanwhile, free-lining bait off the back of the boat will keep you busy with mackerel, jacks and bluefish, and there's a chance for a cobia encounter.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.