What's hot: Redfish are schooling in large numbers, 300-500, in lower Tampa Bay. On past trips the bite was red hot at the end of the incoming tide, with reds feeding on live bait, cutbait and lures. We stopped on a school, fished for an hour and caught 18 reds from 26 to 34 inches. The boat next to us was there for three hours and caught more than 100. This will be the best action of the year and should last for a few more weeks. During this time, a large female red from the breeder schools hanging offshore will join the inshore schools. She will swim with them for a week or two. They will then follow her out to join the breeders. After they leave, most of the reds left will be 18 to 24 inches. This occurs every October.
Tackle: Rods 7 to 8 feet will cast farther than shorter rods. Rig them with 10 to 15 pounds of braided line with a 20-pound leader. Hooks should be 1 to 2/0 circle. Free-line your live or cutbaits on the edge of the school. Give the reds time to find your baits. When the reds start feeding hard, switch to lures for nonstop action. If action slows, switch back to live or cutbait.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.