What's hot: Trout fishing has been great, especially on the gulf side. Trout fall into a predictable summer pattern, usually favoring the scattered, grassy and rocky bottom along some of our barrier islands. Many of the passes and cuts that tend to hold snook will also attract trout. Both species spawn along the beaches during the summer and eat well on moving tides. Trout, however, will tend to cooperate on slack tides when in a school.
Tackle: Small paddle tail jigs and plastic shrimp under a cork are a favorite for those throwing artificials. As for live bait, smaller sardines will get a lot of action. Handle these fish carefully and use a de-hooking tool to release them. I favor small circle hooks for a quicker, safer release.
Tip: In swift currents near a pass, a small split shot a couple of feet from the hook can give bait more time in the strike zone. Be prepared to hook a few flounder. Snook or redfish may also be a bonus.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 or through his website at captbrian.com.