The action is consistent and producing a variety of species.
The key is to target the right fish during the correct time and proper tidal phase.
Snook and redfish seem to prefer feeding in the morning and early evenings now due to the mid-day heat. Snook have been feeding with conviction in preparation for their spawn. It's as if they know they're out of season.
Large lively baits fished early in the morning or just before sunset will provide ample opportunities for trophy-sized fish. Night angling has been exceptional as well.
If you happen to catch one of these monsters, take time to properly revive and release the fish. Populations of snook rely heavily on these local females.
Redfish have been easy to target during low tides that fall in the evening and early morning. Strong outgoing tides force the reds off the flat in predictable routes until they ultimately congregate in nearby potholes and channels.
Positioning your boat or wading to one of these areas for the last hour of the outgoing tide should produce plenty of activity. Don't be surprised to also land several trout and the occasional snook.
Shark fishing has been awesome the past few weeks, and it should continue to improve.
Large blacktip, 25-75 pounds, have been roaming the Gulf sides of islands and sandbars in loose schools. These fish are extraordinary fighters on medium spinning tackle, making kingfish-like runs and jumps that rival a tarpon's.
The best part is how easy it is to entice the shark into biting. Start by anchoring on the Gulf side of a sandbar or barrier island.
Anclote Island and its northern sandbar are excellent spots. The area received national attention for a large school of sharks in the summer of 2001. Throw a few handfuls of greenbacks, then wait for explosions on the surface.
Large groups of bluefish and ladyfish have been swarming the same locations. Once the bluefish and ladyfish are chummed up, cast a bait or artificial.
It doesn't matter what you throw. Just be sure to have a small piece of wire leader attached to the end. Bluefish have extremely sharp teeth and can swim away with lures.
After a few bluefish have been reeled in, break out the shark rod. Medium spinning tackle, 20-25 pounds, will allow anglers to handle a large catch without overmatching the smaller ones.
Tie 4-5 feet of 50-pound leader to the running line. This will protect the line from the tail slaps and twisting jumps by the shark.
Then attach a foot of 42-pound stiff wire to the leader via a swivel. A stout 5/O-7/O hook should be at the other end of the wire.
The shark likely will be attracted by the commotion of the greenbacks, but hang a butter-flied bluefish over the side of the boat to lure them.
For bait, use a 3-inch strip of bluefish or ladyfish and toss it over on the bigger gear. The wait shouldn't be long. Often, you will be able to spot-cast the sharks as they move in to investigate.
Live baits suspended near the surface on corks or balloons will produce memorable strikes. Palm-sized pinfish or mullet are great live baits.
By targeting the region's more finicky species during the better tides and cooler times, then trying the shark and bluefish at less favorable periods, anglers can optimize their day and enjoy non-stop action.
_ Capt. Pete Katsarelis charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at (727) 439-3474 or by e-mail at pkatsarehelios.acomp.usf.edu.