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What Bait Should I Choose and How Do I Use It?

What Bait Should I Choose and How Do I Use It?

Here in St. Pete, FL, summer fishing is upon us, and you couldn’t ask for better fishing anywhere else in Florida. As its own peninsula spanning the Gulf of Mexico to Tampa Bay, St. Pete affords you some of the most excellent fishing opportunities in not only the state but the entire country. Tampa Bay, our largest open-water estuary, offers more than 400 square miles of over 200 species of fish, and favorites such as tarpon, redfish, snook, and speckled trout are all readily available throughout our vast network of grass flats and mangrove systems. Want deep-sea action? We have plenty of opportunities for that too.

As with most types of fishing, having the correct bait and the right presentation can be the key to success. But if you ask 10 fishermen here in St. Pete, FL what they use for bait, you may get 10 different answers. Many of those who fish our waters have their own favorites that they’ve had the best success with, and they staunchly stand by them. But there are some old standbys that you can count on when you are seeking some of our exquisite gamefish here in St. Pete.

Tarpon Bait 

Of course, the reason so many swarm to our clear waters is for the tarpon. Because of the tarpon’s sheer strength and acrobatics, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared with some strong gear and the right bait.

For live bait, crabs can be the most productive and cost-effective. Go out and catch your own crabs with a dip net after an outgoing tide, pull off the claws, and you will be set with some fool-proof tarpon bait. Other successful live bait includes shrimp, threadfin herring, pinfish, and mullet. Hook your crabs in the corner of the shell and the other baitfish through the mouth.

Bigger tarpon like to scavenge for their food, so you can use dead bait successfully as well. Chunks of fish like catfish, ladyfish, or mullet can be used to lure tarpon to some free and easy food.

Snook Bait

Here in St. Pete, snook can be found year-round, ranging in size from less than twelve inches to well over forty. With eyes at the top of its head, it makes it easy to lure it from above. Although snook have a large mouth, they have very small teeth, which means they need to swallow your bait whole.

Snook like to sit facing moving water with the current bringing their meal right to them and will go after small crustaceans like shrimp and small crabs, pinfish, white bait and finger mullet.

Redfish Bait

Anglers from around the world travel to the St. Pete, FL area every year to catch redfish in and around the waters of Tampa Bay. Their magnificent color and aggressive runs make for an incredible fishing experience.

Redfish will go after a wide variety of bait and adapt to whatever is most abundant in the area, whether dead or alive. Live baits that work well with redfish include shrimp, mullet, marine worms, minnows, pinfish, ladyfish, and small crabs. In the deeper drop-offs, pinfish and small mullet often work the best, with minnows and shrimp more effective in the shallows.

Speckled Trout Bait

Fishing for speckled trout in St. Pete is one of our favorite, family-friendly pastimes. While not as flashy as our other large game fish, they can still offer an exciting fishing adventure as well as a tasty meal.

With many anglers, lures are popular for speckled trout fishing, but live bait also has its place. Many forms of live bait offer excellent results, including small crabs, mullet, minnows, and pinfish. If it's presented close enough to the fish and it's something they like to eat, your live bait can be a great success.

Supporting Your Lifestyle on the Water

If you’re headed out on the water in St. Pete, take us with you. At Reef & Reel, we offer an extensive line of rods, reels, tackle, apparel, and other products to support your angling lifestyle. Check out our website at or swing by our store on Tyrone Blvd. next time you’re in the area. We can offer you some great fishing advice or just some awesome gear so you can look like a pro out on the water.

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