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Inshore Lures of Choice? Heddon Spooks!

It’s been said that catching fish on topwater lures is the ultimate fishing thrill. If so, then fishing the flats is the ultimate extreme -- the X-Games of topwater fishing. Flats like the those located around Tampa Bay in Florida have an abundance of redfish, snook, tarpon, and sea trout all willing to smash a topwater lure with vengeance.

In fact, it’s not that unusual for an angler to catch an inshore slam, which is a sea trout, redfish and snook all in one day. It becomes an addiction. Jason Stock, who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., is a professional angler, fishing guide and expert at backwater fishing for any species of fish swimming in Tampa Bay or coastal waters. Stock owns and operates Jm Snooky Kayak Charters out of the Tampa Bay area.

His two favorite topwater lures for fishing the flats for tarpon, redfish, sea trout or snook are the Rattlin’ and One Knocker Spooks by Heddon Lures. Color seems to matter depending on the weather. On cloudy days, a darker color pattern is better, and on sunny days a more transparent color produces more fish. Stock’s favorite overall color pattern is the Z-Shad followed by Bone, Chrome, and Silver Mullet.

When targeting big fish on the flats, Stock uses the 4 ½-inch Rattlin’ and One Knocker Spooks. But when the bite gets tough he switches to the smaller 3 ½-inch Heddon Super Spook.

“I use a steady retrieve, walking-the-dog technique all the way back and if a fish strikes at it, I keep moving it,” Stock said. “The fish in these shallow waters will nail it thinking it’s trying to get away. Another tip I would give to anyone fishing these topwater baits is to tie a loop knot; this gives it lots of action when working it back in.”

Shallow water is the norm for anglers fishing in Tampa Bay. Flats boats can get to most places other boats cannot reach, but that still leaves thousands of acres inaccessible to boats. By shallow, Stock is referring to 6-inches to 3-feet of water. Stock, who is part of the Wilderness Systems Kayak Pro Staff, takes clients out in kayaks -- the perfect solution to otherwise inaccessible shallow water flats.

“I focus on oyster islands or sand bars, open flats, mangrove islands, and try to move a lot to cover water,” explained Stock. Besides covering lots of water, Stock looks fok for tides making water chutes and pot holes.

For gear, Stock keeps it simple. He uses a St. Croix 7-foot medium action spinning reel, Shamino Stradic 4000 reel with 10-pound braid and a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader line tied to the Heddon Spook. He uses a heavy leader line because it is stiffer and keeps the line from tangling in the hooks when a fish strikes.

Jason Stock is part of the Wilderness Systems Kayak Pro Staff and specializes in backwater and flats fishing in Tampa Bay. To contact him for an outing or guide trip call (727) 459-5889 or email at