What's hot: Snook can be found in big numbers along west coast beaches. Large schools will hold in all passes that have strong tidal flows. The easiest place to find big numbers is along the beach in clear water. Snook will hold in the trough formed by the wave action hitting the beach. Look for a large dark shadow, then anchor up and pitch baits to the spot. A shadow moving indicates fish; if it is still, it is grass on the bottom. Tarpon also are migrating down the west coast beaches. Watch for silver flashes as fish roll to breath air.
Bait: A 12-foot cast net allows me to fill the well quickly and to throw in deeper water. I like to have a variety of bait as you never know what a snook or tarpon will eat. Scaled sardines or "whitebait" are everyone's top choice. Threadfin herring or "greenbacks" are just as good as whitebaits but are sensitive and die quickly once their scales fall off. Crabs can be found floating on grass lines on outgoing tides. Use a long dip net. Pinfish usually end up in the cast net.
Tactic: Approach schools with care. Running motors spook fish and shut them down. Snook and tarpon run to deeper water when spooked, making it difficult to sight cast. Use a push pole or a trolling motor on the lowest setting.
Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at captainrobgorta.com or (727) 647-7606.