By ED WALKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2001
High water temperatures and this week's strong tides should direct flats fishermen to the mangroves. With midday water temperatures climbing near 90, most shallow-water fish will move to deeper water or into the shade. Mangroves provide this shade, and when the tide is high enough, snook and redfish will take refuge there. The key to catching them is to present your bait within a few feet of the branches. Most of the time the fish will not venture into the direct sun to strike your bait. This is one of few instances where live shrimp work better than live whitebait. By trimming the tip of the shrimp's tail, you reduce its ability to escape or swim away from the dark underside of the mangroves. This exposed meat of the shrimp also gives off a scent that will help draw strikes. Sardines have a tendency to run away from the trees.
Since the fish are seldom visible, it helps to know which mangroves hold them. The best usually have a deeper hole underneath, an oyster bar or both. You may see a fish move under the branches, giving away the hiding place. Some trees will hold more fish than seems possible. A client and I once caught 14 redfish from under a single mangrove that did not look big enough to hold that many. Of course, at low tide there is no water beneath the mangroves, so be sure to plan your trip around the peak of the high tide.
- Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail TarponEd@aol.com.