Thursday, February 22, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Nearshore bonanza

What's hot: Tarpon are going strong off area beaches. Hit the beaches early as long as the wind stays out of the east; calm conditions are perfect for targeting schools of fish as they migrate along our beach. Set up quietly with a trolling motor, or wait for the fish to come by. The fish have been traveling south fairly quickly and not showing much on the surface so the best option the past few days has been to keep fresh baits out and anchor along the swim buoys.

Inshore: Redfish numbers are good as many flats holding schools of mullet are also holding plenty of reds. The best tide for working mullet has been the lower to mid part of the incoming, then target oyster bars in the latter stages of the incoming and first part of the outgoing tide. Trout fishing has been pretty good this week — target nearshore reefs and pass jetties. Free-line small whitebait on a 2/0 hook, with a 30- or 40-pound fluorocarbon leader to prevent cutoffs from mackerel or in case you hook a big snook. Most trout have ranged from 15 to 17 inches, with plenty of more than 20.

Bait: With the clean water the beaches are socked in with pods of theadfins and pumpkin seeds, both excellent tarpon baits. Scaled sardine are much easier to come by than a few weeks ago — bridge shadow lines at night have been most consistent and chumming along grass edges just before sunrise is a good second option.

Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at [email protected]

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