What's hot: Fishing with a fly rod or light spinning tackle is fun right now. Bait fry have been moving into the bay for better than a month and the predatory fish are on their tails. Mackerel, jacks, bonito, ladyfish and bluefish are having their way with these pint-size baits from Egmont Key to far up the bay. Except for the mackerel, these speedy predators are not noted for table fare, but they do offer exciting and fast action for the light-tackle enthusiast.
Baits: Although most any bait may work during a feeding frenzy, try to "match the hatch" for more hook ups. As a rule, these fish are feeding on very small baits and may not take a larger offering. Small casting spoons retrieved rapidly will draw constant strikes. Small white or red flies might be a better choice if you're handy with the fly rod.
Scouting: Diving birds give away the location of bait schools and predators. Feeding fish drive minnows to the surface, attracting the birds, which attack the baits from above. The trick is to be there when the feed is on. This may last only a minute or two. Once the "mack attack" is over, they'll dive and resurface some distance away. So keep an eye on the birds. From above they can follow the fish to the next bait school. Stay with the birds and you'll stay with the fish.
Paul Hawkins runs Flats Guy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.