Plenty of large snook are on the flats of Tampa Bay and a good many redfish are mixing in. The snook are primarily holding over isolated grass patches on otherwise muddy flats. As the tides increase the water depth, the snook seem to make their way toward the mangrove shorelines, feeding on whatever small baitfish they can find, which is often small finger mullet.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the bigger snook were on the mangrove edges of deeper bayous and creeks. Now they are more concentrated on the shallow flats. There are a lot of snook more than 30 inches long in water no more than 20 inches deep. The most productive flats are near the deeper water.
If the area has a lot of oyster beds and a good bit of grass, running into some nice reds or a big spawning trout is not uncommon. Lures that have produced big snook, trout and reds for my clients this week include noisy surface plugs, pumpkinseed-colored jig bodies on \-ounce heads and 6-inch red jerk baits on [-ounce heads. The most productive live baits for all three are scaled sardines, but if those aren't around, we've had good luck on small mullet, live ballyhoo and dollar-size pinfish.
_ Eric Shapiro charters Light Tackle Fishing out of Tampa. Call (813) 963-1930.