What's hot: Cobia fishing has been excellent. East winds have allowed beach waters to clear up and load up with bait. Schools of threadfin can be seen raining on the surface of the water, and predatory fish such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobia and soon tarpon will key in on these bait pods.
Tactics: Anchor in the area holding bait and get a chum slick going. Frozen chum blocks containing menhaden oil are best; one step further would be to cut and toss fresh threadfin off the back of the boat at a steady pace. Cobia aren't picky and will usually eat any live bait thrown at them. Keep a couple of medium-heavy rods with a live threadfin or pinfish out off the back of the boat and have another one at the ready, in case a fish comes right up the chum slick. Most of the fish have been running around 15 pounds, but reports of bigger ones are numerous. Cobia must be 33 inches measured to the fork of the tail to keep, and you are allowed one per person per day or six per vessel per day, whichever is less.
Coming soon: The migration of tarpon along area beaches is much anticipated. Now would be a good time to put on fresh line — 40- or 50-pound braid has become standard. And you'll want to stock up on hooks, floats and fluorocarbon leader. It would be a good idea to check your drag washers and replace them if it looks like pocket lint underneath your drag cap.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.