Redfish are roaming the flats in small packs to large concentrations of 100-200 plus fish in a school. Look for these schools to be around oyster bars, small islands and mangrove shorelines. These fish will move up onto the flats to feed as the tide comes in and will work an oyster bar or shore line for food.
Some of the best baits have been pinfish, scaled sardines and shrimp. If you are not getting any hits from the live baits, do not be afraid to use cut bait of any of the previous mentioned baits. Sometimes when they are finicky cut bait will do the trick.
If you see a school of redfish do not chase them as this could give them lockjaw. You are better off to try to set up so the fish come to you and cast your offering ahead of them, so they can find it naturally. At times if you cast into the middle of the school you will spook the fish especially if your line touches their back so work the outside edges when casting to a school.
Areas that have been holding redfish have been from the mouth of Tampa Bay at Fort Desoto all the way north to upper Tampa Bay at Double Branch. The fish have been at all the usual areas in between like Tierra Verde, Weedon Island and the fourth street area.
A typical set up for flats fishing would be a 7'- 7'6" med/light pole,10-15lb braid,a 3' piece of 20-30lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0-2/0 circle hook depending on the size of the bait and fish.
Flounder are also making a showing in the bay. A live or gulp shrimp on a jig head dragged along the bottom through sand holes or sandy edges near rocks or grass is a good target area.Small hops or just slow reeling works very well. Sometimes you might think you are snagged but just put a little pressure on the line and if you feel the slightest movement set the hook.
Places to look for these tasty flat fish are Fort Desoto on the inside as well as the beach side. The clam bar area working sandy areas of the skyway flats.Areas near Weedon Island and Gandy Bridge.
Capt. George Hastick
" The Fish Hunter "
Fishing Charters www.fishtampa.com