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The importance of presenting bait or a lure in the fish's strike zone is difficult to overstate. The problem breaks down into three sections.
First, read where that strike zone will be. Surprisingly often it's not where fish are holding or resting. In general, predators lie just out of the current, in potholes or eddies, behind structure, etc. Periodically these fish move to where the current passes their lair and wait for prey. A bait presented in the resting place likely will be ignored, or spook the fish, while one passing in the nearby current is struck.
Second, read what path a bait must take to pass naturally through the strike zone. Fly fishermen work fast-moving trout streams this way, reading the drift carefully, and our inshore saltwater situation is the same. Subsurface currents may be different from those on top, and line drag is a major culprit in pulling baits from the desired path.
Finally, when the location is identified and presentation chosen, accurate casting is a must. Ordinarily, casts are made upstream or cross current, and pass through the zone as though riding the current unhindered by hook and leader. Casting into the wind is difficult but often necessary; use a low, flat trajectory. If a cast isn't just right, redo it.
Mastering these skills requires time and effort, but will get results.
-- Capt. Archie Giannella guides out of Tampa on The Noble Neil. He can be reached at (813) 251-5512 and at CaptArchie@mindspring.com