Friday, March 23, 2018

Captains Corner: Focus on tides for inshore game fish

What's hot: The summer snook bite is on, and many anglers are catching good numbers on the outgoing tides near the major passes. The dropping tide allows these predators to sit on points and drop-offs, and feed on the baitfish that get flushed out of the mangroves and flats. Note where the current runs strongest, and this area will have the concentration of snook waiting to ambush a meal. While sardines are working on the incoming tides, the best bait for the falling tide is the biggest pinfish that can be caught. Pinfish are hearty and will survive the swift-moving current, and they also will hold down in the water column where the snook like to stage. The pinfish will let an angler know when a snook is nearby, as it becomes nervous and indicates this by moving erratically. Snook are currently off-limits to harvest, so anglers should handle these hard-fighting fish with care.

What else: The redfish bite has been good in north Pinellas waters on the stronger moon tides. These higher tides bring in schools to feed along the mangroves, where there are small crabs and pinfish to fill up on. The key areas to target are the shallowest flats that these fish can't normally hunt on the lower quarter-moon tides. Pinfish under a cork or cut ladyfish have been the best baits.

Beach tarpon: As July nears, many fish migrate from the south and travel the beaches at first light. These milling fish will not be in large schools, rather in groups of five to 10 fish looking for easy meals. Sightcasting to tarpon is a treat for anglers who enjoy throwing artificials. Swim baits and diving plugs are the best ways to hook into these game fish.

Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at [email protected]


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