The early morning topwater bite continues to be scorching hot on the flats, especially around the numerous bait schools that have shown up seemingly out of nowhere.
Many of these bait schools have taken up residence on points, prompting hungry predator fish to do the same. As the tide starts running, most of the bait has been on the up current side of the points in slightly deeper water. Schools of trout and redfish have also been on the up current side, waiting for the tide to push those bait schools into the shallows where they can easily ambush as much as they can fit in their stomach.
If you find that the topwater bite slows down or you are getting strikes but the fish are not getting hooked up, then you should switch to a subsurface plug or jig and soft plastic combo.
The big over slot redfish are still targeting crabs on the surface on swift moving outgoing tides; however, they seem to be more spread out than usual. Instead of them being concentrated in the pass and around the bridges, they have been eating crabs on the surface throughout St. Andrews Bay. Topwater walking or popping plugs have always been a cool way to catch them but sometimes – especially during the middle of the day when visibility is best – the fish can be quite picky and a more natural presentation may be required. When they are not reacting to plugs, a flat-lined crab is almost always going to get the bite when presented to a feeding fish.
Still my favorite fish in the bay to target for dinner is the feisty mangrove snapper. They are extremely plentiful right now and nicely spread out around the bay near many shallow water structures and even on some grass flats around deep potholes. They are easy to chum up and will eat a variety of live baits including shrimp, small pinfish and live pilchards. A small circle hook does a good job of grabbing them and getting them to the boat. I like to leave the bail open when free lining for them because of how fast they strike. Let them run off a few feet of line after biting and then simply close the bail and start reeling.