What's hot. With the flats starting to heat up, the fish and bait are moving out of the deep water and creeks, rivers, and canals.
East side. On the east side of the bay the cobia, pompano and sharks are still doing well at the power plant on the cooler days after a front. The best baits I have been using for the cobia are a half-ounce jig head with a 8- to 10-inch plastic worm. With the pompano and sharks, I throw a quarter- to a 3/8-ounce jig head tipped with a shrimp.
West side. The flats around the bay area like, "the Kitchen," EG Simmons Park, Picnic Island, Coffee Pot and the 4th Street Flats all are holding big numbers of trout in the 2 to 4 feet of water over the grass. Those same flats are also holding some good numbers of redfish and snook on the higher tides. They have been up on the flats against the mangroves and the baits I have been throwing at them are a jerk bait on a 1/16-ounce to 1/8-ounce jig head with a 15-pound leader because of the clear water.
Sheepshead and trout. The sheepshead and silver trout still are going strong around the bay area artificial reefs and deep water channels on a shrimp and 3/8-oz jig heads tipped with shrimp.
Tip. If you are making that run down to the bridge to catch sardines and run back to your spot, and the snook or redfish are chasing the bait but can't get it, here is a trick that I use. I take a cork and put a split shot just under the cork. As the sardine swims around, it is dragging that cork so it makes it easier for the fish to eat it.
Capt. Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.