Cooler water has ushered in great fishing. Offshore, the mackerel bite has been incredible over the rocks of the nearshore artificial reefs. Long-shank hooks prevent cutoffs from their sharp teeth. Mangrove snapper are schooling up in the chum line as we draw in the mackerel while on anchor. Downsizing tackle and hiding the hooks in a piece of cut bait gets the most hook-ups on snapper. Kingfish have been chasing trolled threadfins over the hard bottom areas within 6 miles offshore. Light wire and a stinger hook attached to the tail area of a trolled bait is the best method to keep them on for a lasting battle. Look for bait schools dimpling the water to get a shot at a king. The flats are providing action with spotted sea trout moving into north Pinellas. Sardines are still available along the beaches but are getting sparse as the water cools. Soft plastics are working well with a ⅛- to ¼-ounce jighead. Whites and greens are the best colors with very clear waters. Grass flats 3-5 feet deep are holding plenty of smaller trout, and the spoil islands along the Intracoastal are beginning to produce larger female trout, typical in the area this time of year. Redfish have slowed slightly, although the ones hooked are occasionally very large. The large "bull" reds are usually located offshore where they continue to mature in the more open water.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.