What's hot: Other than the heat, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout and snapper. Nice 4- to 5-pound macks are plentiful. The toothy treats are scrumptious if cooked fresh and prepared properly. Snapper are starting to go nuts around structures. And sea trout have been blasting bait over deepwater grass beds quite aggressively.
Tip: Live bait collection has become difficult. The large, scaled sardines have gone to spawn, and in their place is the "new school" of baitfish. If you have an old dip net with the mesh torn or rotted away, keep it. The metal frame and handle make an excellent guillotine for "gillers." Small bait can get stuck in the net. And it can take hours to pinch off all of their heads and shake them free. Whisking the metal frame up and down a stretched net will save so much time and effort if you wreck your cast net with growth-challenged bait.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.snookfish.com.