Strong tides and an overabundance of baitfish are a big part of the reason why the fishing has been so good throughout the Intracoastal Waterway and the area.

On-again off-again onshore winds have made fishing the nearshore Gulf tricky over the past couple of weeks. However, when the winds have been out of the east the beaches have cleaned up and the Spanish mackerel bite has been on fire. Locating areas of bait indicated by bird activity will help to find the mackerel. Anglers have been trolling and or casting silver spoons and white bucktail jigs for plenty of mackerel in the 2- to 4-pound class.

With the amount of bait in the area, cast netting a well full of pilchards had been easy. Chumming with a mixture of tropical fish food and water will bring droves of bait right behind the boat when anchored just off the edge of most any grass flat near one of the inlets.

Live chumming during the lower tidal stages around flats drop offs that can be found around many of the spoil islands throughout the Intracoastal will bring plenty of action from trout, Spanish mackerel, redfish, jack crevalle and a few snook. Anglers should free-line baits up-tide of the area the fish are working so they will naturally drift through the strike zone.

Mangrove snapper fishing continues to be good both inshore and nearshore. Bridges and jetties are good places to find schools of snapper right now. Free-line or lightly weight pilchards or live shrimp right along the rocks or pilings. Downsizing your tackle to a number 2 hook and a 20 pound leader will increase your bites from the larger snapper.