What's hot: Warmer weather and higher tides this past week sparked a revival of inshore fishing. All of a sudden, the flats seemed like a different place.
Hints of spring: Thousands of small pinfish have returned to the shallows, flashing as they nibble in the grass, and ballyhoo have become more abundant. Full-moon high tides have let redfish access shoreline oyster bars and mangrove feeding areas that have been largely inaccessible for a few months. Schools of larger reds have been showing up in many areas that were virtually lifeless a month ago. Extra-large spotted sea trout have been moving higher onto the flats, too, in some areas all the way to the mangroves, with the flood tides.
Back to the flats: Winter patterns have begun to yield to those of spring. These changes will let anglers regularly sight-fish on the open shallow-water flats. If the weather holds, sport anglers will no longer be relegated to soaking natural baits in deep holes or under docks or slowly creeping artificial lures along the bottom of mud-bottomed canals. With fewer cold fronts fouling the exposed flats, a wide variety of species will again take up residence there. Working these shorelines and open flats will at last start to become the preferred fishing method.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.