What's hot: Hot summer days and a weaker tidal phase has kept the water temperatures high in the back country this week. Some days have seen water temps near 90 degrees on the flats, turning most anglers' focus to the beach and near shore fishing. Most fish have responded by moving out of the shallow waters, finding deeper edges with any sign of moving tides. Trout are holding on the deeper grass flats near the passes midday, in 5-8 feet of water. The bigger female trout are being caught in the troughs and ditches along the beaches, chasing baits that are being pushed around by the surf and tides. Even redfish are being hooked along the beaches, as they are also looking for a cooler environment. Snook are still stacking up around the points and cuts where the current moves more swiftly, offering a steady stream of food and flushing water.
Bait: Sardines are still the main choice for most species this time of year, but remain difficult to find at times. Early cast netting along the bridge lights before dawn has been easiest. Chumming on the usual grass flats has been slow, attracting thousands of "net wrecker" sized hatchling baits. Downsizing net size to quarter-inch mesh will result in less baits hung up. Use the smaller baits on a No. 1 to No. 2 hook to catch trout and other fish, foraging for a small, easy meal.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and through his website at captbrian.com.