What's hot: With slower tides in the morning this week, fish have a tendency to spread out across the flats. On quarter-moon phases, many game fish use dropoffs and deeper sand pockets to trap bait to feed on. Work the many mullet schools that are holding away from the shorelines using a weedless single-hook copper or silver spoon. As mullet push across a flat, redfish and snook hunt the crabs and baitfish that scatter in the stirred-up mud.
With the water temperature climbing into the lower 80s, many tarpon have shown up on the beaches at first light, cruising the shorelines in as shallow as 2 feet, where the sand bars fall off to deeper water. Most of the fish have been singles and doubles. Toss a free-lined crab ahead of a cruising tarpon. Fish that don't roll often are feeling pressure and swim faster.
Pro's tips: In the early spring run of tarpon, the water is still pretty clear so tackle is key. Downsizing for beach fish increases the hookup ratio. Use a lighter leader such as 50 pounds and smaller hooks in the 4/0 range. The drags need to be a little looser to prevent breakoffs.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 439-9017.