What's hot: Warming water and relatively light winds have opened opportunities for a variety of species. From Apollo Beach to the Howard Frankland Bridge to the Gulf beaches, pompano have arrived. The moving tides at the Misener, Gandy and Frankland bridges have long attracted schools of pompano. Drift the swift running current in Bunces and Pass-a-Grille passes. Each of the Skyway fishing piers and both piers at Fort De Soto are traditional hot spots. Small crabs, sand fleas and shrimp may be used for bait. An assortment of jigs may also be used, none more productive than "Doc's Jigs." They're 2-inch long molded pieces of lead in the shape of a banana. Use yellow, yellow-and-white or pink. I like the quarter-ounce but tide will dictate which is necessary to bounce the bottom. Add a smaller trailer to enhance appearance.
Tips: Once thought to be only accessible to spear fishermen, anglers have mastered hook-and-lining hogfish. Patience and lots of shrimp are key. Hard bottom in 40 to 80 feet has been most productive. A knocker rig, with 1- or 2-ounce weight sitting on top of a 2/0 hook with spinning tackle, works well. Light braided line, no swivel and 30-pound fluorocarbon leader rounds out the rig. You'll likely stay busy with the grunts, grouper, mangrove snapper and porgies before the hogs start chewing.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.