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CAPTAINS CORNER

Today's 2.1 high tide is perfect for catching redfish and snook around mangrove islands. With the high coming late in the afternoon, you'll have plenty of time to find bait.

Many of the grass flats that line the channels in the bay hold whitebait (scaled sardines). One of the best ways to find whitebait is diving birds. Most people look for pelicans when trying to find minnows, but another sea bird who will give away the hiding places of whitebait is the royal tern.

Royal terns are gray and white crow-sized sea birds who primarily feed on large baitfish. Royals are much bigger than their relative the least tern, who mainly feed on smaller fish like glass minnows. Royal terns can be distinguished from least terns by their long, bright, orange-red bill.

After you have a live well full of whitbait, find the mangrove islands that have large schools of mullet jumping around them. Finding mullet means there is plenty of thick grass and vegetation. While the mullet are scouring the bottom for supper, they're also spooking crabs, shrimp and small baitfish that hide in the lush grasses, which of course is why the snook and reds are there.

_ Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 448-3817.

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