What's hot: In the heat of summer, many gamefish use shade to find relief and feed on abundant small crabs around mangroves and docks. Redfish will push onto the flats on good incoming tides and follow mullet schools into the treeline. The key to catching these bottom feeders is presenting a bait that will be stationary while working the inside edges of the shade. Cut bait, such as ladyfish, works well. Using a 3- to 4 inch tail-hooked pinfish also works well, pegged with a large split shot just above the hook. Both offerings hold longer in the strike zone where the redfish hunt on higher water. Snook are using the shade of mangroves to feed at midday. Watch for bait spraying along the trees; these linesiders cruise the shadow line to ambush finger mullet and greenbacks. When working down a bank, note the points, creek mouths and oyster bars to find backcountry snook. These are common areas to find these gamefish late into the fall.
Bait tip: The key to keeping bait frisky during warmer months is cooling the interior water of the boat's livewell. Freeze a couple of gallons of water and place them in the tank during the warmer parts of the day. The oxygen levels will increase as the water cools. This will help the baits live longer.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.