What's hot: Spring brings higher water levels and an abundance of bait moving into the shallows. The increase in water temperature means larger fish foraging on the flats of north Pinellas County. The most abundant species of late has been redfish. They are hammering baits and lures thrown on high tides around most any oyster bar or mangrove shoreline. There have been larger trout in the 4- to 5-pound range mixed in. On warmer days, some snook have moved onto the grass flats.
Strategy: When the wind blows, stay a good distance from the target zone. Focus on which direction the wind is blowing; this will often help with locating where the fish lay up. By using a pinfish or shrimp under a cork, the offering can be kept above the oyster bars or right along the edge of a treeline. Note which direction the tide is moving, and work tight to the structure, allowing the water movement to cover a stretch of shoreline.
Signs of reds: Tides that follow a new or full moon have a tendency to be higher and bring the larger schools of redfish up on the flats. Work spoons along the edges of mullet schools and look for ospreys that hover over water, as this is a sure sign of schooling mullet, and redfish won't be far behind. On higher tides, most oyster bars are holding large quantities of 2- to 4-pound reds.
More drum: Because of all the stone crab traps inside the gulf passes, giant black drum are following the scent trails in. Forty-pounders can be seen mudding up the grass flats, but anglers need to use large shrimp pegged with a large split shot to hold on the bottom. These huge drum will test most inshore gear.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.