For live baiters who prefer to gather their own bait, this time of year often presents a challenge. When water gets chilly, minnows abandon the flats and scatter into deeper depths. A few of the most dependable bait holes during these times have been the fishing piers at Fort De Soto and both Sunshine Skyway bridge piers. Though bait may be there during slack and slower tides, it will often hunker near the bottom and stay tight to the pilings, undetected from the surface. Anchoring away and chumming it from the structure is an alternative and reduces the risk of losing a net. Once the tide gets rolling, bait has a tendency to rise and travel the shadow line on the uptide side of the structure. All the bait I observed Tuesday morning was ganged up on the far southern end of the south Skyway pier. Getting to it by boat would have been difficult due to the number of anglers lined up along that stretch of the pier. Though I'd rather not bother them, there are times bait at these spots is the only game in town. Most anglers don't mind if you ask to make a quick throw and then get out of the way.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.