What's hot: From tarpon to trout, each day the bite inside the bay is different. Off-and-on rain and thunderstorms throughout the day have made it a bit tricky to plan ahead. The cloud cover has made sightcasting nearly impossible for the last week, but it has cooled the water a little and made it more pleasant for anglers and fish alike. Trout, in particular, seem to like overcast days and spitting rain. Redfish also are more active when it's not so hot.
Tactics: On the flats, blindcasting for trout can be pretty successful. At this time of year use artificial baits. There are so many pinfish around a shrimp won't last long. Cotee's cracker shad jigs work well on the deeper grass flats. In shallow water, a topwater plug is a plus. Mirr-O-Lure's 5M, with the small propellers, is a great noisemaker that will attract trout from some distance.
Anchor on the deep side of the edge of a flat and put out a chum block to draw in all sorts of creatures. Trout, mackerel, mangrove snapper and small sharks will follow the scent. Live whitebait are probably the best choice here. Don't forget to put out a heavy spinning rod with a pinfish under a cork. Tarpon travel these drop-offs around the bay, and there may be one coming your way.
Tip: Watch out for the lightning storms. Lightning often strikes well ahead of an approaching storm. Find cover until well after it passes before you try fishing again. The fish can wait.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.