What's hot: The influx of bait off the beaches has led to game fish holding in and around the major passes of North Pinellas. Snook and redfish are running the swash channels along the beaches during the incoming tides. The clear water has made it necessary to downsize leaders to 20-pound test. Smaller bait, such as silver-dollar pinfish, will lure these finicky linesiders into eating at midday. A top lure choice would be a pumpkin style, white bucktail with a 1/8-ounce weedless jighead. Redfish in the 20- to 24-inch range are holding in deeper holes along the major passes such as Clearwater and Hurricane. A select-sized shrimp has worked best when rigged with a split shot just above the hook. "Deadsticking" the shrimp allows the scent to be found more easily by these bottom feeders.
Spanish mackerel have arrived at depths around 15 to 20 feet. With the water clarity so good, heavier mono leaders rigged with a long shank silver hook are working better than any type of lure. By using the smallest whitebaits, cutoffs are kept to a minimum.
Tips: When using lighter leaders to catch bigger game fish, a lighter drag to start off will decrease friction on the line and slow breakoffs. With the use of sharper hooks and the superbraids, a fish will almost always get hooked well, with even the lightest drag setting.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.