Past trips: During the low tides, we target trout in 3-4 feet. When the tide is high enough to move on to the flats, we cast jigs into the schools of mullet in search of large trout. The larger trout like to hang in the mullet schools for protection because trout know it's safer among 3,000 mullet than be alone on the flats. Most trout are in the 20- to 26-inch range. That makes it worth casting a couple hundred times to catch four or five gator trout.
When the tide gets higher, we start looking for signs of redfish. The schools have been small and hard to see. It takes a slow approach with your trolling motor on low until you see the flash of redfish. When the reds are located, it's best to cast cut threadfins or ladyfish on the edge of the school and wait for the reds to find the bait. It's still early for the reds to be in large schools. If you can find them close to the mangroves, a free-lined shrimp is best.
Caution: Now that the water temperature is in the high 60s, you will see more manatees on the flats. The signs to look for are a pattern of boils in a straight line or a long mud slick. When you see these, slow down and try to avoid driving over that area. In the past few trips, we have seen manatees on the flats of lower Tampa Bay, in water 4-6 feet deep. They will hang out in these areas throughout the summer.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.