What's hot: Wind and severe thunderstorms had kicked up the waters to create a muddy mess just offshore, chasing the kingfish and mackerel to deeper, cleaner waters. For a few days we had good-sized kingfish reports from local fishing piers along the gulf. These fish follow the large bait schools, and when the water gets cloudy the bait disappears.
Fishing inshore allows anglers to hide from the wind in pursuit of redfish and trout. The inshore water temperature has warmed, and trout have gone for deeper water. Fish canals, grass flat edges and white sandy patches for greater numbers of trout. Redfish are still available on strong outgoing tides near oyster bars and the mouth of creeks along Tampa Bay's shoreline. Good numbers of snook are being caught when bait can be found to entice a feeding frenzy.
Techniques: For kingfish and mackerel, choose good tidal movement and a day without wind; look for birds diving on bait pods and travel just offshore to find clean water. Pinellas County Reef as well as the Rube Allen and Betty Rose artificial reefs are all great places to anchor and chum for kings and mackerel.
Inshore, try the leeward (not windy) side of islands, seawalls and creeks if possible. Look for good tidal movement; strong outgoing tides will have redfish, snook and trout waiting for a tasty bait. Shrimp is a good option if whitebait is not readily available.
Tips: Always watch the weather before and during a trip on the water. High winds can be dangerous; no fish is worth risking harm to yourself or your equipment.
Stay inshore on questionable weather days so you are close to the boat ramps in case you need to make a quick exit or find shelter.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at (727) 518-7637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.