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The water is hot, but that doesn't mean the fish on the flats won't eat. Snook are still on the flats in surprising numbers, and they are a welcome by-catch when targeting the large schools of redfish now there.

The best success we've had recently has come by heading out at the first sign of light to our favorite Old Tampa Bay flats. The reds are more active before the heat gets oppressive.

Easing around the flat with the trolling motor has been the most conducive to catching a bunch of fish. For two mornings we idled the outboard too close to the fish, and they scooted off like a herd of bonefish. We caught up to them, but they were not the same. After we caught one or two, they would move. On days we sneaked up on them, we couldn't keep them from scarfing every offering we made, including live and artificial baits. Most important, they weren't spooky, and reeling them in did not make the rest go away.

When you start electric troller-monitoring across the flat, scan the horizon and use your peripheral vision to notice pushes of fish. You might see the large push of a big school of reds coming at you from down the shoreline. A hundred heavy, hungry redfish will stick out, especially if they are on the hunt for baits to bust. If you throw out a few wounded sardines or get your gold spoon ready to cast when they come by, you should catch some nice ones.

_ Eric Shapiro charters Light Tackle Fishing out of Tampa. Call (813) 249-5224.