What's hot: With a surplus of bait moving onto the flats, many inshore species are hunting the flats aggressively on the incoming tides. Lower water levels allow these predators the advantage of trapping bait in sand pockets or against the edges of oyster bars. Most snook have moved from the backcountry into transitional areas, like spoil islands and the many no-motor zones in the state parks. The swash channels along these tree lines have increased current and give the linesiders an ambush zone to work with. Thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader is needed while working the barnacle-encrusted bushes for snook.
The higher tides of spring will bring the many smaller schools of redfish together to form large schools around the new and full moons. These monster schools will work up into the shallows and forage on the diet that most grassflats offer. The redfish will usually fall in behind the silver mullet as the tide comes in. A tail-hooked pinfish will cast far and keep anglers a good distance away from these weary fish. Other top bait choices for reds are cutbaits, like ladyfish and shad.
Catching bait: Chum mix can bring in sardines from a long distance on grassflats with good tidal flow. Kozy Kitten cat food, cornmeal and a little menhaden oil is a great formula for attracting needed bait. When dispersing, be sure to use small amounts to keep the slick close to the boat.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 439-9017.