While the much anticipated fall run of kingfish eventually will begin, patience is needed. Though there have been reports of a handful being caught, the big numbers likely will show up when the water temperature drops another 10 degrees or so. In the meantime, there are plenty of options. Mangrove snapper and mackerel have been chewing good in Tampa Bay and the gulf. We've been most productive on our mango trips fishing the low light first thing in the morning. Often by 9 or 9:30 a.m. the bite will taper or shut off completely. The keen-eyed snapper haven't left. You might see 50 of them in your chum line but can't buy a bite. Downsizing tackle is the logical choice. Go to a smaller hook, eliminate your swivel, lose your weight. In fact, don't use a leader at all and offer lighter line. If nothing works, keep chumming, break out the long shank hooks and focus on the mackerel that have been cohabitating on every spot we've mango fished lately. Though they also might become leader-shy and a bit finicky, with their lightning-quick striking nature they can sometimes be fooled when the mangos can't. Anglers slow trolling the same spots that soon will be holding kingfish in the gulf have reported increasing catches of mackerel. Many of them were full grown.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.