What's hot: If flounder, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and speckled trout aren't on your hit parade, they should be. Vacationers Steve and Danielle Monsanto of Springfield, Mo., found out how abundant they are even during the heat of summer.
Stopping at a local bait hole on the way out proved to be well worth the time and effort. Chumming with a mixture of canned jack mackerel, cornmeal and menhaden oil, the stinky concoction drew bait within striking distance. After a couple of throws of the bait net, the duo had all the whitebait (scaled sardines) and small pinfish they would need for the outing.
Locations and tactics: Our first stop found us on a 3- to 4-foot deep grass flat surrounded by water in the 12-foot range. The surrounding deeper water keeps the water on the shallow flat a couple of degrees cooler during the flood tide. Drifting the flat instead of anchoring on it enabled us to cover more ground.
We used a floating rig while working the flat because it's simple and effective. It consisted of a 1/0 long shank hook tied to a piece of 25-pound leader with a 3-inch weighted cigar float placed about 18 inches above the hook. The float is the key. It helps for longer casts, keeps the bait out of the grass and provides fun and excitement while watching it disappear. Numerous speckled trout and Spanish thought so, too.
Our second stop was an old artificial reef in 12 feet of water. The pair used the same rig except we exchanged the float with a small split shot to make it a bottom rig. It wasn't long before the flounder, mackerel and mangrove snapper found it.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376.