Most of our trips have been inside the Skyway bridge. Bait was easy to find over the deeper grass flats. Snook and redfish are hanging in the docks from Pinellas Point to Weedon Island. The trick to locating a productive dock is live chum the area and look for surface strikes. Have bait ready to cast as soon as you see a strike. It's best to cast over the strike and reel the bait back to where the fish broke the surface. When you cast short, reel in the bait and recast. Keep fishing until your chumming baits stop drawing strikes, then move to a new area and repeat the process. Tackle should be at least 20-pound line and a 40-pound leader. Anything lighter allows fish to cut you off on the pilings. These areas have oyster bars and swash islands nearby. Work the up-current side during the end of the incoming and the start of the outgoing tides. When live chumming these areas, try tossed baits low to the water so birds won't eat them. If birds see baits flash during the throw, they'll dive on the baits and spook the fish. Trolling and bottom-fishing for grouper along the shipping channel is red hot. If you don't have a good spot, try trolling the dropoff of the channel and mark a spot as soon as you hook a fish. You can then return and bottom-fish that area. The best depth is 26-34 feet.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.