The summer run of tiny minnow fry has begun in the Nature Coast area. Huge schools of newly hatched Spanish sardines and threadfin herring have poured in from offshore.
Nearshore: These bait swarms are preyed upon by gamefish just about everywhere they travel. We recently witnessed a massive bait pod moving along a channel edge, causing an incredible snook feeding frenzy. Dozens of snook blasted the minnows at the surface, often leaping clear of the water to grab a mouthful of this rich food source. Big speckled trout, redfish, ladyfish, jacks, mackerel and even tarpon will join in this amazing feeding activity.
Offshore: On the open gulf these same minnows are preyed upon by bonito, kingfish, mackerel, grouper, snapper and jacks. One thing to remember when targeting fish feeding on schools of small baitfish is to "match the hatch." This means selecting a bait or lure similar in size and color to those the fish are eating. When the food is abundant the fish often become picky eaters and will have a preference for minnows of a certain size.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 944-3474.