What's hot: Redfish schools are showing up throughout the entire region. Schools ranging from 20 to more than 100 fish can be found cruising well-known locales, such as the many spoil islands in and around the Fort De Soto Park area and the eastern sides of the barrier islands in St. Joseph Sound. They can also be found in many not-so-pressured areas, such as small oyster bars along dock-laden shorelines.
Tactics: These fish are extremely wary right now, especially on the lower tidal stages. Wait for the tide to come in before trying to push your way to where the fish might be holding. When you locate a school and they do get spooked, stop right there and wait them out. They wanted to be in that particular area and will more than likely come back.
Tackle: Using 7½-foot rods spooled with 10-pound braided line can help you cast to these fish without spooking them. A 3-foot piece of fluorocarbon leader — maxing out at 20 pounds — is needed due to the extremely clear water. For bait, try a 3-inch Gulp shrimp rigged on a 1/8-ounce weedless pumpkin jig head. If that doesn't work, a medium-sized pinfish is hard to beat.
Rigging pinfish: Take a pair of scissors and trim off the tail of the pinfish to keep it from burrowing into the grass. Also, a small slit in its belly will let some scent out. Occasionally we'll put on a big split shot when long casts are required or the pinfish is on the small side.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail [email protected]