What's hot: Kings catches are below normal. In recent years it has taken a smoker in the 40-pound range to win a big-money tournament in our area. Last weekend's event had a couple of 27-pounders and a 21-pounder in the top three. Water temperature is just getting into that 70-degree range that they prefer. Warmer temps will trigger increasing bait schools to bunch up near shore and the predators won't be far behind. With the abundance of bait at the Skyway Bridge, it's little surprise that a few kings have been caught from the fishing piers. Bait schools are gathering at many markers lining the Egmont Ships' Channel from 9 and 10 on out.
Tips: Bottom fishing has remained strong and now that gag grouper is closed to recreational fishing it seems they're on every rock pile. From well inside Tampa Bay out to 50 feet, we've got them at most every stop. Also, there have been some tarpon at the major bridges in upper Tampa Bay, the flats off Pinellas Point and a handful at Egmont. The upcoming new moon might spur increased activity.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.