Spring has sprung! Warming water temperatures and the arrival of abundant baitfish mean the flats are alive and well.

       Pinfish have made their way back into the shallows where they've taken up residence on grass and sand flats. Mullet are working in big schools along the shoreline, making them perfect targets for a variety of gamefish. Meanwhile, speckled trout and redfish are patrolling around the mullet schools, eagerly searching out shrimp, crabs or baitfish being flushed out by the mullet doing their thing.

       During times of high water, you can find small groups of redfish right up along the shoreline where they become great targets for spot and stalk sightfishing. Once the tide drops out, cruise around and throw soft plastics in slightly deeper potholes where the speckled trout tend to congregate while waiting for the tide to rise again.

       A strong sheepshead bite continues in the inlet along the jetties and other submerged structures. The best action occurs when the water slows down and changes direction. At slack tide, you will often see sheepshead come up from the bottom of the rocks and start suspending over the top of them. When this happens, throw a split shot with a shrimp or fiddler crab and you’ll have a solid chance of getting into a good bite window while reducing the likelihood of getting hung up in the rocks. A small #2 circle hook is a good way to deal with the finicky feeders.

       A wide variety of fish – Spanish mackerel, pompano, jacks and redfish – are biting in the troughs along the beaches right now. Each of those have their own appeal and tactics which best get them to the boat.

       When targeting Spanish mackerel, either troll small spoons or mackerel rigs behind the boat to locate fish or, if the fish are feeding on the surface, then you can run from school to school and cast plugs or jigs into the fish. Although both techniques offer high levels of success, I think casting to them is more fun.

       If pompano is your target, then you’ll want to focus your efforts on working the surf and pockets along the beach where the water is turbulent and stirring up sand fleas, crabs and shrimp. Other good spots for pompano are the corners of the jetties where the rocks meet the beach. Natural baits work well when fished from shore on a #2 hook rig but one of the most productive and exciting ways to catch them is with small hair or metal jigs fished along the bottom. These fish tend to be on the small side but they fight hard and taste delicious.

       Mangrove snappers, a favorite of mine because they’re relatively easy to catch and taste great in a taco, have started showing up in all their usual springtime haunts. Mixed in along the jetties, bridge pilings, sea walls, docks and many other shallow water submerged structures, mangroves offer a fun fight on light tackle with little specialized gear needed. A flat-lined or lightly weighted shrimp or baitfish is the perfect offering for a hungry mangrove.

       If you have questions about what's biting, how to catch them or would like to book a trip of your own, then give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!