Flats to Nearshore Report By: Capt. Gary Burch

Weather and water temperatures are consistently very warm which makes the fish lethargic during the midday. Fishing early in the morning, using the incoming tides or fishing late afternoons and early evenings are your best bets.

I have been using the top of the incoming tide to catch a variety of fish on the flats. Finding an area that has grass with sand holes and moving water has been the ticket. These types of areas generally hold the baitfish which attracts the larger predators.

It is very important to find out where in the water column the fish will be feeding so you can fish more productively. It doesn’t matter whether you use artificial or live baits, follow these simple suggestions and you will increase your chances of catching more fish.

Fishing the surface with floating lures can be done almost anywhere. You can cast baits in six inches of water all the way out to hundreds of feet deep. The best time to fish floating baits is in the early morning or dusk; fish will feed on the surface in these low light conditions.

When choosing a floating artificial color, try to match the hatch, which means making sure the lure closely matches the type and size of bait in the area. If small mullet are schooling up, then chose a similar looking lure. The only requirement when retrieving the lure is to make it look as natural as possible, I retrieve with short little jerks in between reeling.

When targeting redfish, use the top of the tide to get up tight to the mangroves, this time of year the water is downright warm and the redfish like to hang out under the bushes. Take your time and cast some cut baits under the mangrove shoreline. Cut pinfish, ladyfish or mullet will work.

Toss your bait right up to the shadow line and let it sit for a while, free lining your cut bait with a split shot attached should do the trick. If nothing happens, move down about 50 to 75 feet and try again, sooner or later you will find the reds.

Dock fishing for reds this time of year should also be good because of the hot mid-day sun and the shadows the docks create. Try lots of docks using the same method of casting cut baits and live shrimp up underneath. Keeping the bait in the shadows is the trick for finding the reds.

August will be a very active month for fishing the shallows of Clearwater Bay, the weather and water conditions are usually very stable and that’s what the fish like. As long as it stays consistent, minus the rain showers, the fishing will continue with lots of catching.

Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website:

Capt. Gary