What's hot: During the past few weeks you could find schools of bait in Tampa Bay that were the same size, but the situation has changed. Most baits are now schooled together — small spawn, larger whitebait and large sardines. This has made bait catching a little harder. When chumming for bait, look at the size of the bait entering the slick before you cast a net. A quarter-inch mesh net will work best when the spawn doesn't show in the slick. If you think the baits are too small, cast on the edge of the bait and see if they get stuck in the mesh.
Tips: Larger baits netted in deeper water can be hard to keep alive in shallower water. Flush the well with 5 or more buckets of fresh water to add oxygen when the bait is stressed. You'll also want to put fewer bait in the well. Finally, place a frozen jug of water in the well.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.