What's hot: Redfish remain consistent, despite the ever changing weather. Inshore, redfish are on the flats in good numbers in our northern region, small schools of fish ranging from 18 to 25 inches can be targeted on low tides out on the exposed edges of the flats with either soft plastic jigs or fresh cut-bait on the bottom. High tides will have these fish shadowing the mullet schools and/or staged up around oyster bars. When the fish are cruising the edges of the oyster bars, a live select shrimp suspended underneath a float will almost always draw a strike.
Time for shrimp: Cooler water temps as well as windy conditions can make it difficult to pattern baitfish, so live shrimp have come in handy recently. The best thing about live shrimp is that everything eats them and they provide the opportunity to hook into more crustacean-minded species such as pompano and sheepshead. Those fish would be off the table if you were relying solely on baitfish.
Tactics: Free-lining live shrimp with an up-current cast and letting it drift through the potential strike zone will fool even the wariest of predatory feeders. For a variety of fish, target deep grass beds in 3 to 6 feet of water. These deep flats are often found near the edge of the main channel as well as the many spoil islands throughout the I.C.W. Given the right water clarity and tidal movement one could expect to hook into such species as sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and pompano.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail [email protected]