What's hot: The early morning high tides this week will find many snook cruising the beaches where the water breaks on the sand. To catch the prized game fish, walk down the water's edge and cast parallel to the shore ahead in the swash channel. This drop-off is a natural feeding highway for these linesiders to find an easy meal before the sun gets too high. Watch for the small packs of baitfish that are schooling up tight and look like a dark cloud against the clear waters off our beaches. The snook will hang near the schools and run through them, ambushing the small sardines. Use lighter leader, such as 20-pound fluorocarbon, to help disguise the presentation. Small white pumpkin bucktails of a quarter-ounce work great for throwing artificials and covering more ground while walking the beach.
Equipment: While working the shoreline for snook, watch for rolling tarpon on the deeper sandbars that are 30 feet off the shoreline. Heavier equipment is needed to fight these silver kings, though a stout snook rod could work if rigged properly. Forty-pound leader could be used for both species and will keep a tarpon buttoned for a few jumps. For a reliable artificial, the old faithful 65m Mirrolure always sinks quickly and gets down in the face of moving tarpon.
Keep moving: While wading along the beaches, do the stingray shuffle to avoid getting stuck by a fleeing ray's barbed tail. Shuffling the feet along the top of the sand will scare the rays away before an angler gets close to the concealed, flattened predators.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.