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Captains corner: Search oyster bars for inshore gamefish

Anglers who concentrate on inshore gamefish around oyster bars on higher tides will almost always have some degree of success. This shell-laden habitat works as a restaurant for passing redfish and snook looking for an easy meal. During flood tides, these fish prey on the pinfish, crabs and marine worms around these oyster bars..

Being familiar with the way currents push down an oyster bar helps in getting a bait to work naturally in the strike zone. Redfish work the outer edges, even as far as 20 feet from the structure. Snook like to hold on the down side where the water eddies and creates an ambush spot. The largest speckled seatrout are usually found on the upcurrent side and attack bait as it comes to the bar.

Snook: As the days get longer, more snook will transition toward the barrier islands and eventually the beaches. The first few fish moving out can be cautious, yet they will fall victim to a sardine. Use 20-pound fluorocarbon leader with a lighter drag setting. Work the mouths of bayous, creeks and rivers for fish in the deeper holes.

Redfish: The stronger tides around Monday will bring higher water levels that give schools of redfish the security to push farther up on the flats to feed. On calm mornings, these predators will "tail" and push wakes in the shallow grass flats, stirring up the bottom. Once the tide flushes in, these schools mix in with the silver mullet schools. In this situation, a gold, weedless spoon to cover more area.

Seatrout: The largest, or "Gator," trout can usually be caught until late March, at daybreak while there is still a tinge of coolness in the air. Get out early to work fish that haven't been pressured.

Offshore: There has been great light-tackle snapper and sheepshead action. Both have keen eyesight and detect hardware easily, so use smaller hooks (1/0) that can be disguised by burying them into the shrimp. A good chumline will produce a frenzy and pull the fish away from the rocks.

Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 or jim@captain

Captains corner: Search oyster bars for inshore gamefish 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:06pm]
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