This year's bumper crop of newly hatched Spanish sardines is producing great fishing for a variety of gamefish. The tiny minnows showed up in early May when they were about an inch long. Now they are 2 to 3 inches and are located along the coast. Spanish sardines are a great fish attractor because they densely group together. When under attack, they come together in incredibly thick pods, appealing to large predators, such as tarpon and sharks, that would not bother with individual ones.
Snook: When fleeing pelagic species offshore, the bait schools often stack up along the beach and in the swash channels. Snook, already on the beaches for summer spawning, gorge on the tired and easy-to-catch minnows. Look for dark spots that indicate the presence of sardines. To target snook, cast a 3- or 4-inch scaled sardine into or near the bait pod. The larger profile of your bait will make it stand out.
Tarpon: When the small sardines are on the beach, keep an eye out for tarpon. As big silver kings finish spawning this month, they will become much more active feeders and will spend time working over the dense minnow schools.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 944-3474.