The waters are still a bit cooler than the kind a bunch of fish like to aggressively chew in. Fishing conditions, however, have slowly but surely begun to improve. On a recon mission Tuesday, I visited both Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing piers and the bay and gulf piers on Fort De Soto. Though it wasnít thick at any of them, I was pleasantly surprised by some bait at each structure. Though pier operators on the Skyway said fishing has been slow due to the chilly water temperatures, anglers on both sides have managed some silver trout, whiting, black sea bass and sheepshead. Not a lot of big ones have been seen, but later in the day, when the water warms a bit, anglers on the south end have tangled with a few mackerel. Until the water does warm, weíll continue entertaining ourselves by outsmarting sheepshead in the bay and honing our skills hogfishing a bit offshore. With spring weather not far off, this is when I like to check my stock. Iíll begin gathering my hooks, trebles, wire and swivels in preparation for kingfish season. Starting to stockpile my gold-hook rigs now lightens the load of doing it all at once later (it just seems cheaper that way, though itís not). Iíll take all my kingfish reels to the tackle shop and have them respooled. Replace bilge pumps and baitwell pumps, and get the water pump checked and batteries replaced, if needed.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.