What's hot: Redfish are starting to school in large numbers. During most of the summer, schools have held 25 to 50 reds. These smaller schools are joining pods that hold 200 to 300. They are moving close to the mangrove shoreline during incoming tides. During the peak of high tide, most reds will move under the mangroves. This is when it gets difficult to locate the school. Use a trolling motor or a push pole and travel just outside the mangroves. Look under the branches for long, dark shadows. When you locate the school, anchor the boat a bit offshore and cast your bait toward the openings in the branches. A corked rig will help you know where your bait is and give you a chance at pulling it away from the branches before the bait gets snagged.
Spawn: Large schools of bait spawn are moving out of the bay and into the Gulf. Target Egmont Key and just outside the passes. Look for birds working the dark patches of water. Bonita, mackerel, jacks, ladyfish and tarpon will be feeding on the spawn. The spawn baits are half an inch long and lures should be the same size. If tarpon roll in the bait, switch to a live pinfish and free-line it where the tarpon roll. The spawn should stay around until mid August.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.