The Tampa Bay Times

A cool weather pattern has stirred up things on the flats recently. Bait is still on the beaches however wind direction plays a big role in catching it. On days that are too rough, we have been chumming on the flats to catch enough bait for fishing. It has been a mix of sardines, also called greenbacks, and threadfin herring. Threadfins tend to die much quicker in the bait well so I try to only keep the sardines if possible. However, the threadfins that die make great chum for redfish. I will often separate them into a separate bucket so I can easily load the chum slinging bat to distribute them. I have been focusing a lot of attention on the back water bays and canals during this recent cold front. Snook have been stacking up around residential docks. There has been a lot of small male snook being caught, but occasionally larger female snook are willing to eat. I like to use 20-pound braid for my main line when fishing around structure such as dock pilings. I also use 30-pound fluorocarbon leader as long as the water isn’t really clear. I will go down to 25-pound leader in very clear water, but that runs the risk of getting chewed through by rough lips from a snook or rubbing against the pilings and breaking. Redfish are frequently caught under the same docks as snook, however they prefer a cut bait or shrimp pinned to the bottom with a split shot.