What's hot: With slow tides this week, decreased water movement will leave less water upon the flats where many snook have staged in transition. The numerous potholes and small spillways in these shallows are also holding redfish waiting to push up to the mangroves to feed during the higher tide levels.
The deeper water levels around stronger moon phases means flooded mangrove shorelines, which puts many game fish in a comfort zone to hunt baitfish and crustaceans. The various branches and oyster bars that weave throughout the shade are key ambush spots for snook and redfish to find meals. Using a trolling motor at low speed, anglers can work down a shoreline while pitching baits or lures into open spots in the trees. An accurate cast farther up in the brush will yield more strikes. Once a fish is caught, anchor and fan-cast the area thoroughly as there may be a small school of fish holding in the cover.
The water off St. Joseph Sound has been clear, which means excellent sightcasting opportunities. The fish in the sandy potholes are easily seen from a distance. Downsize to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader to present a bait, and set up your vessel so that you can use any breeze to make long casts to the area.
Tackle tip: Use a small split shot just above the hook to allow baits presented along the mangroves to stay longer in the strike zone. Tail-hooked sardines or pinfish work best in this scenario.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.