What's hot: Family fishing has excelled recently. The younger children have kept busy catching a variety of smaller bottom fish, including sea bass, snapper, grunts and grouper. The older kids have been thrilled with large Spanish mackerel and releasing sharks and out-of-season, legal-sized gag grouper.
Be prepared: Loading up with a variety of baits and tackles will lead to multiple species. The right live bait has been scarce, but 3- to 4-inch scaled sardines are magical when found. The fish also have responded well to fresh-cut threadfins. Use medium, light-spinning rods with a knocker rig for bottom fishing. Also incorporate free-lined offerings with a short trace of wire to avoid cutoffs from the toothy predators.
Bonus possibilities: Chumming while fishing over natural, hard-bottom areas toward the mouth of the bay can lead to cobia, kingfish, tarpon and more while keeping it fun for the kids. Keeping the anchor tied to a float will allow a quick chase when big fish hit.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (727)510-1009.