Flats fishing over the past 10 days has been difficult.
A strong high-pressure atmospheric system has lingered over the area since May 16th, and inshore fishing generally is slower during periods of high pressure.
Adding a mixture of slow tides and a massive pinfish spawn with high pressure has made the feeding periods extremely short. Look for things to improve after the high pressure ends and the tides become stronger.
It might be a good idea to take advantage of the pinfish spawn and use them for bait. This is where the saying "match the hatch" comes into play.
Snook should return to feeding on incoming tides for the next week. Whitebait, threadfins, sardines and pinfish have drawn the most strikes.
The best action has come free-lining baits and chumming with live whitebait. Live chumming puts the fish in a mood to chase bait. A free-lined rig gives the bait a chance to run and looks natural.
When beach-fishing for snook, use a large pinfish to help locate the school of snook. Pinfish are lightly colored like the sand along the beach, and they like to stay close to bottom when free-lined. Starting up-current of the area you're fishing, cast the pinfish 10 to 15 feet from shore and let it flow down-current.
If your fishing from the beach, walk with the bait as it drifts. When fishing from a boat, anchor the boat and cast up-current, letting the bait drift until it's behind the boat. Recast over the area at least 10 times before moving to a new area down-current. These methods allow you to cover large areas and find schools of fish.
The redfish seem to be most effected by high pressure, slow tide and the pinfish spawn. Most trips during the past week produced few redfish strikes, even on days on which we were surrounded by hundreds of schooling reds. Those that did eat fed on a scaled sardine or pinfish.
The trout, on the other hand, are feeding fine. They are striking float-and-jig combos, whitebait and small pinfish rigged under a popping cork. They also will hit topwater plugs, which can be a problem because of the large amount of surface grass that foul the plug.
The best action for trout has been in areas with thick grass, potholes and cormorants. The cormorants are feeding on large pinfish, and most of areas that hold enough pinfish to attract the birds will attract trout.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.