© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002
Red Tide moved inside Johns Pass for a few days. Live bait was hard to find there. The snook bite slowed around the bridge. But strong tides over the past few days have cleared out Red Tide. Bait schools moved back into the residential canals near the pass and snook are back on their normal feeding patterns.
The hottest baits have been pinfish on the beach, grunts at the bridge and shrimp in the docks. Most big, breeder females have moved farther up the bay. The good news is, most of the snook left are legal size.
Tarpon still are working the baitfish spawn along the beach from Johns Pass to Clearwater. They feed on threadfins, pumpkin seeds, whitebait or pinfish. I prefer pinfish because they are easy to catch and stay close to the bottom. Freeline baits in areas where tarpon are rolling. Let your rod bend double, with line peeling off, before setting the hook. Blacktip sharks hang in the same area. Use a block of frozen chum to bring sharks close to the boat. Rig a light rod with a wire leader and leave it in the rod holder. The drag should be loose during the first run. After the run and a jump give the reel slightly more drag for the rest of the fight. Cut mackerel and pinfish seem to draw the most strikes.
Trout action is still strong in 3-4 feet of water during a strong tidal movement. A jig and float combination has been best. Small strawberry jigs seem to work best. Bigger trout have fed toward the end of the outgoing tide.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.