What's hot: With spring patterns emerging along the west coast, many inshore species will use the shallowest water to hunt down a meal. As the water warms, pinfish, sardines and other bait become food for the big three — snook, redfish and trout. Look for two key factors. One: Look for birds picking around shallow flats on low water. Egrets and spoonbills will root around areas with bloodworms and small crabs. Often this area is the shallowest section of the grassflat. These crustaceans are favorites of redfish and the bottom feeders will work that zone once the tide begins to flood. Two: Work around mullet schools on high water. In early spring, these schools will flush up the bottom as they work toward the mangroves. The result becomes a massive buffet for predators. Gold spoons and scented plastic shrimp are the best artificial offerings, as anglers can work the lures near the bottom. For live bait, shrimp and silver-dollar sized pinfish rigged with a small split-shot just above the hook will keep the bait down, where gamefish will be targeting.
Tackle: Long casts help disguise a presentation in cleaner water and place distance to weary fish. Ten- to 15-pound braid is optimum for extending casts with spinning gear. Always set up to the schools with the wind behind you to get the most distance. Rig the bait with weight forward to cover more water.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.