As usual for this time of year, inshore fishing can be slow. Warm water and an overabundance of freshly hatched sardines on the flats are often the reason. Lately, I've been netting smaller baits with a one-eighth-inch mesh cast net then chumming some of the grass flats near the passes and catching a multitude of fish. Trout, ladyfish, small groupers and especially mangrove snapper are all in the mix. The action is constant, and after a while we can focus on snook or redfish. Large female snook are still around the points near the beaches but definitely have a reduced appetite after a strong season of spawning. Smaller male snook are a little more cooperative, attacking the smaller sardines in the troughs and swash channels parallel to shore. Redfish are spotty in the usual places such as oyster bars and under bushes. I have found a few schools sitting in potholes on the flats, nearer to deeper water that can be cooler as the temperature rises. Creeping along until I locate a few fish, I'll spread out a variety of baits. Cut pinfish or sardines on the bottom and live ones under a float are my first strategies.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.