What's hot: Although it's still hot out on the water, you can already see the transition into fall. In the days after Isaac, the wind direction shifted out of the east, cleaning the waters and eventually allowing bait schools to stack up along the beach. Packs of hungry bonito and big schools of juvenile Spanish mackerel were working the surface aggressively.
Tactics: By targeting hard-bottom areas a couple of miles offshore we've been able to find larger Spanish mackerel in the 3- to 4-pound range. Live chumming with pilchards has made it easy to get the fish into a frenzy, using long-shank hooks and a 40-pound leader helps to prevent cutoffs from the mackerel while still allowing you to fool the more wary bonito.
Other signs of fall: Anglers fishing the pier in Redington Shores have had success catching redfish of all sizes and with flounder. Both of these species schoolup in the fall and can be targeted along nearshore rock piles and jetties.
What else? With the wind expected to blow a bit this weekend, staying inshore isn't a bad option. Strong outgoing tides in the morning should provide excellent action along deeper grass areas just inside the passes. Live chum and free-line live pilchards to catch a variety of fish from mackerel and trout to ladyfish and jacks.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email firstname.lastname@example.org.