What's hot: Schools of bonito have migrated heavily into nearshore waters. They can be spotted exploding on schools of glass minnows from just outside the swim buoys out to about a quarter-mile offshore.
Tactics: Anchoring and chumming with live pilchards wasn't as effective as we had hoped. The fish were obviously focused on much smaller baits, making it difficult to gain their attention with the larger ones. It wasn't until we motored upwind and drifted through pods of feeding fish that we were able to get consistent hookups.
Tackle tips: Bonito have keen eyesight and will often shy away from wire leaders. Using 30- or 40-pound mono- or fluorocarbon leaders with a 1/0 long-shank hook will produce more bites than wire, and the long-shank hook will help reduce cutoffs from mackerel. Bonito are a prized fly-fishing target in the Northeast and can be taken on fly here. An intermediate sinking line would work best.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail email@example.com.