Redfish and tarpon: The full moon tides offer a full day's fishing using a variety of tactics — low tides for tailing reds, high water for bait fishing schoolers and the late falling tide for tarpon.
Tactics: Tailing reds are in water 10 inches to about 2 feet. They'll move onto the flat as the tide rises and feed on crabs and shrimp. Wade fishing should get you in range. Small unweighted flies let you place your bait close to your target. Weedless jerk baits should be cast well beyond the fish and worked back into the zone, a foot or two in front of the tailer.
On higher tides, reds tend to school near mangrove shorelines. Artificial baits work, but live baits generally are more productive. Ease down the mangroves, keeping an eye out for reds flashing or pushing head wakes. Anchor back a long cast's distance from the school, place your bait to the side of the fish and let them find it. A bait dropped too close will spook them. Pinfish and pig fish are good choices.
The last few hours of daylight will have tarpon feeding on pass crabs around bay bridges and the ship channel. Look for weed lines, dip-net a few pass crabs, put one on a stout spinning rod and drift the weed line. It's simple and straightforward, and it works.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 560-6762.