What's hot: September is the start of shorter daylight hours, which triggers snook to run to the upper parts of Tampa Bay. After a few weeks they move out of the passes and hang around the bridges and spoil islands inside the pass. Their next stop is the Sunshine Skyway bridge and the docks that line Pinellas Point. As we move into October, they'll be as far north as Weedon Island, Cockroach Bay and the Gandy Bridge.
Bait: Bigger is better when you're trying to catch legal-sized snook. Threadfins, scaled sardines, pinfish and grunts draw strikes from the larger snook. They also last longer than small white bait. When fishing the lights at night, use a medium-sized shrimp. Tail hook and free-line the shrimp upcurrent and let it drift back to the snook. When fishing the bridges, use enough weight to keep the bait close to the pilings.
Tackle: When fishing the docks and spoil islands, use 20-pound braided line with a 30-pound leader. The hook should be a 1 or 2/0 hooked through the nose. Under the bridge, use 50-pound test and a 60-pound leader so you can pull them out of the pilings. Hook the baits through the nose so they swim naturally in the current.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.