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Inshore report: Use variety of methods, baits to beat the heat
By JIM HUDDLESTON
Published July 13, 2007
With the water temperature hovering in the low 90s at midday, cooling the water in your livewell will keep bait alive. Put a frozen 2-liter bottle of water in your cooler until the warmest part of your trip, then move that bottle to the livewell to bring sardines and other sensitive baits back to liveliness. Increased water flow also helps to cool the water. Bait pumps of 1,100 gallons per hour will also flush more oxygen into the system and keep bait alive longer.
Snook and redfish are slow to eat in the middle of the day. But a variety of dead baits can jump-start lethargic fish into eating. Ladyfish, houndfish, shad and mackerel are all oily, stinky bait that will leave a scent trail for fish to follow. A large chunk of dead bait will mean a larger fish. Even though pinfish will often tear up the dead bait, the commotion and scent actually draw in the bigger fish.
The snook's summer spawn started with the last full moon and more big females are cruising the surf just off the beaches. The 15- to 20-pounders are in the usual haunts from Clearwater Pass to Anclote Island. Leaders of 40-pound test are necessary to prevent cutoffs by the sharp gill plates. A 3/0 hook placed just above the pectoral fin of a greenback will make the bait swim down and into the strike zone. If there's a strong current, nose-hook a pinfish, as they lay true in the tide.
Schools of redfish are still running the flats and can be caught with patience. The higher tides in the morning this week will bring the fish up into the mangroves to feed. Cut bait tossed up under the tree line will keep them feeding comfortably in the shade. A well-placed cast into a pocket or opening is often rewarded with a bite. Once hooked, most of the battle should take place low in the water so that the line will not get tangled in the branches and cut off. A 30-pound leader will help with this. Casting a copper spoon with a brown, bucktail trailer parallel to the mangrove edges has resulted in good-sized fish over the last few weeks. Work it with a quicker retrieve to get a reaction strike.
Tarpon are still moving along the beaches in good numbers. First light has been to best for hooking into one before boat traffic pushes them to the bottom. The low-light condition also helps to disguise the offering. Once the sun comes up and rolling fish aren't being seen, a whole shad weighted on the bottom will entice a tarpon into eating in a trough or dropoff.