What's warming up: Kingfish are showing up, and when we get a few decent days of weather in a row, it's going to get hot. Gulf waters will clear, and bait schools will regroup. Despite less than ideal conditions the past few weeks, anglers on both Sunshine Skyway piers have landed kings, a few in the 20- to 30-pound range. An abundance of bait at the structures can be readily cast-netted or jiggled on cold hook rigs. As conditions improve, kings will settle in tried-and-true locations along our coast. Bait gathers first on artificial reefs, and early spring spots include the Treasure Island, South County, Madeira Beach, Indian Shores and Rube Allyn reefs. Outer markers of the Egmont Channel are good bets.
Best of rest: Good numbers of sheepshead and mangrove snapper and some keeper grouper roam the edges of the ships channel inside the Sunshine Skyway. Whitebait is the first choice for the snapper, but they won't shy away from whacking pieces of shrimp intended for sheepshead. Pinfish are best for the larger grouper. Tarpon are gathering at the major bridges in Tampa Bay. Target them after dark. Silverkings will cruise the light line of these structures and ambush baits being swept through by the tide.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.