What's hot: With spring in the air and cold fronts slowing down, start looking for fish to make their move out of their winter haunts. The water temperature on the flats is ranging from about 68 degrees in the morning to as high as 73 in the middle of the day. The morning topwater bite has been great on the bay area flats as the sun gets up in the sky. We have been getting nice gator trout, redfish and even a few snook. As the sun gets higher in the sky, I start throwing jerkbaits or sardines under a cork, not only to keep it out of the grass but slow down the bait.
What else: Not only are the big three biting well, but mackerel and bluefish are on fire in the bay. I look for glass minnows or bait schools in the middle of the bay or out by the Skyway. I like using a light wire or 50-pound monoleader attached to a 2/0 2X long shank hook.
Tip: No matter when you can go, this is the time for great fishing in the bay area. The best part of it is you can use your flats rods to do it all. You just need to change hooks or leader depending what you are targeting.
Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.