One of the most productive ways to find fish in the afternoon is to work jigs along dropoffs or under structure. Jigs come in all shapes, sizes and colors. This gives anglers a wide choice of presentations. When the fish are hanging outside the structure you can use bigger jigs. If the fish stack up under structure, switch to a small jig that can skip across the water.
Skipping jigs is best when trying to reach a fish under a dock or between bridge pilings. The most productive jig is a live one. They are not sold at baithouses so you'll have to make one.
Start by netting a well full of threadfins and scaled sardines. Rig your rod with 50-pound test braided line and a 40-pound mono leader. Use a strong No. 1 hook that won't straighten under the pressure of 50-pound line. Place a split shot next to the hook that is heavy enough to get the bait on the bottom. Hook the bait through the upper part of the mouth and out the top of the nose. Fish this rig like an artificial one. Most baits will last 4-8 casts before they need to be replaced.
If you can catch fish using a piece of colored plastic on a lump of lead, just think what would happen if the jig was alive. Most action will be snook and redfish, but we recently caught mangrove snapper up to 8 pounds, large trout, grouper and tarpon. Live baits don't skip well; save the skipping for the artificial ones.
_ Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.