Bait: Water temperature and spawn will make bait-catching tactics change during the next few weeks. Whitebait netted in deep water will have a hard time surviving when brought onto the flats. The water in deeper areas is cooler than on the flats. The warmer flats water has less oxygen and could shock or kill deep-water baits. To overcome this, place jugs of frozen water in the well and catch bait over the flats. These baits will be adjusted to the warmer conditions.
The problem with catching bait over the flats is the large schools of spawn. These small baits are almost large enough to get snagged in a quarter-inch mesh net. It's best to take a test cast on the edge of the school. Don't open the net all the way, and try to net only a few baits. If they don't get snagged, use a quarter-inch mesh. If they do, move up to a 3/8-inch mesh. If you're still having problems keeping bait alive, net pinfish. These hardy flats-dwelling creatures are easy to catch, last longer and make great bait for most of the game fish that feed on the flats.
Great tide: The outgoing tide before and after the new moon will be strong. This will get fish into a good feeding mood. These tides will fall in the afternoon. Keep your eyes on the weather. The best dates are Wednesday through July 6.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.