What's hot: Finally, a string of days with light winds have allowed the near shore waters of the Gulf to cleanse. Bait schools have begun to regroup and settle in near the beaches and kingfish instinctively will be drawn in to take advantage. With a favorable weather forecast this weekend, it should be a breakout opportunity for even small boaters to get in on the action. Tried and true spots like the Clearwater and Redington hard bottoms, the Blinds Pass drop and the dredge hole along Anna Maria — all close to the beach — will be worth a look. Mid-depth artificial reefs like the South County and Betty Rose are proven in these conditions. If bait is balled up around the middle markers of the Egmont Ships Channel, they should produce.
Tips: While it's often dependable to supplement a bait supply by jiggling up "freshies" on gold hook rigs as you're fishing, gather at least enough to get started with before you go. Just in case.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.