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Captain's corner

Captain's corner: Frisky baits produce action along the beach

June is when the water temperature climbs dramatically and many game fish take advantage of the abundance of bait along the beaches.

Inshore fishing can be great on the incoming tides. Redfish and snook push into the shallows to feed where depth allows. The tarpon migration is usually better in the north Pinellas coastline in late June to early July. Larger yellow-mouth trout are still being caught in the deeper troughs along the beaches.

The key to catching these inshore species is having a livewell full of greenbacks and small pinfish. When throwing artificials, nothing beats a quarter-ounce white pumpkin bucktail jig.

On calm mornings when the grass flats have an "ice rink" look, subtle hints give away the location of a redfish school: a spray of baitfish, a wake from a moving red or tails breaking the surface.

Use the lightest terminal tackle possible to reach the fish. Eight-pound superbraid line connected to a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader has optimum casting distance and disguises the presentation.

When fishing the beaches in Pinellas County, key on the fry bait schools that hold in the swash channels just a few feet from shore. Here, anglers can catch an inshore slam in the same spot. Fish the edges of these clouds of glass minnows with a belly-hooked greenback.

Schools of snook feed up a shoreline on the incoming tide. At first light, many snook will attack a small top-water plug worked where the waves crash on the beach. For larger females, the deeper drop-off holes found on sandy points and major passes are good areas during major solunar phases.

Tarpon migrate along the beaches and will pass in good numbers as the full moon in July gets closer. Large spinning outfits equipped with 60-pound leader are necessary. Pinfish, threadfins and small silver mullet are the best bait options. By anchoring along the beach in 10 to 15 feet of water, an angler can get multiple shots at cruising fish before 9 a.m.

The heat takes a toll on fishing for the cooler. For a good offshore trip, try night fishing around the new and full moons. The water temperature drops a little and many wreck species feel less pressured and are likely to feed. A bucket of medium-sized sardines will give anglers the slick to draw 8-pound mangrove snapper to the boat. Nearshore wrecks in 30 feet of water are holding 30-pound cobia.

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

Captain's corner: Frisky baits produce action along the beach 06/19/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2008 6:22pm]
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