© St. Petersburg Times, published June 2, 2002
Fishing for redfish in lower Tampa Bay has been outstanding during big high tides. Schools of 30-inch plus reds feed on the recent pinfish spawn. Smaller schools of 20- to 24-inch reds are hanging in the mangroves at pike high tide.
Bigger reds need a quiet approach. When using a trolling motor, watch how the school reacts when the motor is turned on. If the school runs, turn it off and drift or pole your boat up to the school. Repeated razing will cause the pack to stop feeding. White bait will slow the school and keep it in one place. Smaller schools are easier to catch. Most of these fish like to hide in mullet schools. White bait under a cork works if it doesn't have to sit long before getting a strike. White bait that sits more than a few minutes will be killed by pinfish. This is when we switch to small pinfish for bait. They will last a lot longer than white bait. When the area gets a lot of boat traffic, move to a corner or point of the island and wait for the schools to come by.
Large schools of bait are just off of Blind Pass. The bait are drawing mackerel and black-tip sharks. The bait will stay there if the wind stays light or blows east. Throw out a chum block and free-line a nose-hooked white bait on a long shank hook and leave the drag loose. Most of the mackerel are 2-4 pounds.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.