What's hot: Working the rock jetties off the outside of major passes has resulted in a variety of fish during the summer. Flounder, snapper, larger speckled trout and snook all can be caught using the same types of rigs. By placing a heavy split shot about 2 feet up the leader, the bait presentation stays near the bottom where those fish hunt. Thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader is the minimum while working these obstructions. Sardines have worked best, belly-hooked above the pectoral fin. With a good incoming tide, the trout and snook feed more as bait gets caught up in the eddies.
Larger snook can be caught with a pinfish or larger threadfin nose-hooked and free-lined in the moving water. On outgoing tides, these same rocks will hold larger flounder on the sandy areas off the structure. Use an ounce or more to keep the bait on the bottom during the more swift falling water. These "flatties" will average 20-plus inches this time of year. The nearshore reefs are stacking up with mangrove snapper and have been very cooperative on overcast days. It has helped to disguise the presentation to these finicky schools that work together.
Tips: Cut sardines into small pieces and let them drift back off the transom of the boat; the snapper will work right up the chum line. When presenting a hooked cut-bait, make it larger than the chum and fish will aggressively feed on it.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 439-9017.