Nice weather and good fishing has dominated much of the last couple of weeks. The pilchards seem to have arrived pretty much overnight on points and flats throughout the bays. While this is a good thing as far as having bait everywhere it can mean that often times fish are not that hungry or not as willing to chase due to the abundance of other forage fish around. What you can do in this situation is to cheat a little and use some of those pilchards to chum the fish into short frenzies. You can get the fish up and chewing chum baits then pitch one right into the chaos and let nature run its course. You could also substitute an artificial lure for a live bait when trying to get hooked up but the key is using the free baits to get the fish active and feeding. You can usually get them fired up for short periods of time but eventually, they will get the hint and it will be time to find a new location to play at. Speckled trout, redfish, mangrove snapper, are your typical targets when chumming inshore however you will have all kinds of other fish move into the area if the action is good. These can include flounder, gag grouper (if the structure is present), bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and jacks. I like to use circle hooks sized appropriately to the size of baits I am using so the baits can swim naturally and are not weighed down.
Speckled Trout: Look for the fish to be in 2-4 foot of water with the bigger fish cruising the shorelines at or near high tide. After that look for them to hang out around moving water either on points, in the mouths of marsh ditches, and mouths to creeks or bayous. at low tide look for them to be laid up in deeper potholes on the flats.
Redfish: Redfish have been in marshy backwater areas and in flooded reedbeds at high tide and at low tide schools have been hanging out id depressions on the flat or just of the flats or points in sandy drop-offs. Bigger fish have been hanging out in areas of high current like bridges and around the pass. You can also find them this time of the year in open water around bait balls. Look for birds working baits on the surface to help locate fish.
Flounder: We have mostly been catching them as bycatch when fishing potholes for trout and redfish. Typically I do better for flounder with soft plastics on a jig-head but if you find they are not reacting to it you can take a small pinfish with a light split shot and drag sand holes with a high level of success. Most of the flounder right now are between 13-16 inches.
Mangrove snapper: Probably my favorite to eat in the bay and a blast to catch on light tackle. You can find them around nearly any type of structure including docks, seawalls, and bridges. Mangroves are highly susceptible to chumming be it inshore or in the gulf. Inshore I like to chum with small live baits like pilchards or glass minnows. That is usually enough to get them to start bunching up around the boat and showing themselves. Use the same thing you are chumming with for bait on a flat line and let it drift naturally just like the chum you are throwing out. They can be finicky so stick with it and pay attention to how they are acting and make adjustments as needed.
Good luck and as always if you have additional questions about what's biting, how to catch them, or you would like to book a trip, I encourage you to give me a call or shoot me an email.
Capt. Nathan Chennaux