Higher-than-normal high tides this weekend should lure redfish onto oyster bars and into mangroves as they search for crabs and small fish. The reds are spooky from the attention they have received, so reach your location before high tide and wait for them to show.
Corked pinfish or whitebait are great choices. They also will chase a gold spoon. Cast the spoon in front of the fish and run it by its nose.
Mangrove snapper are another good bet. Look for them around bridges and rock piles. It's best to use a light slip-sinker rig to get these feisty critters. In fact, the lighter the better. Mangrove snapper have some of the best eyes in the undersea world so fluorocarbon leader is good to use. Whitebait or live shrimp will spark their interest.
Pompano still are on the inshore agenda since these tasty morsels are hanging around. Bridges, passes and beach swash channels are some of their favorite haunts. Fiddler crabs are great bait and hard for them to overlook.
Use a small No. 1 hook and hook the crab through the leg socket. Use small pinch-on weights to hold your offering on the bottom and use only enough to keep it there. Small yellow banana-shaped jigs also will work if fakes are your thing. Dress the jig up with a yellow or pink teaser for more strikes.
Offshore, grouper will be best in 100-foot depths. The gulf water is so warm that it has all the good fish deep trying to stay cool. Anchor up over breaks or ledges for the gags and over the limestone bottom for reds.
They are not picky so cut sardines are a good bet until the bite slows. To get them chewing again, drop a live pinfish or small blue runner. That should pick the action back up.
Amberjack, the brutes that they are, yank hard on fishing lines. Jacks in the 30- to 40-pound range keep company with grouper. Medium-size angle fish or spade fish will get their attention.
And one more thing - hang on!
Some of the best snook action happens at night at the local piers. Pier 60 in Clearwater is always a hot spot this time of year. So is the Redington Long Pier. The Skyway Piers are good for pompano on the outgoing tide.
Party boats are getting Key West grunts and occasional grouper on the half-day trips. Better catches of grouper and mangrove snapper occur on the longer trips when boats can get out farther.
- Captain Rick Frazier runs Luck Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at 727 510-4376 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org