Bait sticks around thanks to warm weather

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Stable and warm weather has had fish extremely active in North Pinellas. Unlike most winter months, the bait has stuck around. Cast-netting for bait to fish for the day has been easy. Trout have been on fire, slowing only after the strong new moon phase passed by. They’re still chasing and inhaling the sardines/greenbacks. The Intracoastal waters between Clearwater and Palm Harbor are holding several fish up to 24 inches though most are 15-20. Artificials have outfished live baits at times, especially when fish are spread out. I like small paddle-tail soft plastics with a one-eighth jig head. Redfish are showing up in schools. High tides are lower than normal, so schooling redfish are forced to stay out of the trees and mangrove bushes and roam the flats with the mullet. Heavy chumming works well. Lay out cut pieces of pinfish on a 2/0 circle hook and wait for a strong pull. Reds often hook themselves as they take off with the bait. Snook are also cooperating. They tend to prefer large baits such as threadfin herring, ladyfish or pinfish. Winds are forecast to be high this weekend, so look for cover in bays or canals with deeper water that can hold fish. Docks will often have reds, sheepshead and snook underneath. Live shrimp works well.

Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.