Red Tide has been creeping toward North Pinellas. Although bait is flourishing along the beaches and predator fish are feeding on them, hordes of dead fish are washing up on shore, most likely from Red Tide blooms well offshore. Lately, I’ve focused a little north toward Tarpon Springs. Once netting a live well full of bait, I head to nearshore rocks within 5 miles of shore. The mackerel bite has been steady with larger fish swarming the chum slick created by hanging a chum bag off the stern. Long shank hooks prevent cutoffs, however, I try to stay with fluorocarbon leader. Wire often deters fish from biting. They will bite through from time to time so bring plenty of hooks. The backcountry north of Clearwater remains clean and productive. Schools of redfish have been working the flats on low water. Cut ladyfish chunks are a favorite bait for reds since they’re oily and create a smell that covers a large area. Cut pinfish or sardines work well also. Finding redfish schools requires a trained eye, although once you can determine mullet schools from redfish schools, it becomes easier. Redfish push water in a more deliberate way, where mullet moves water in a more nervous manner. Also, look for large flashes underwater as reds roll when comfortable. Typically, rolling fish are in a school and more comfortable. Approach very quietly and cast baits around the perimeter.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.