Offshore: Shallow water grouper tops the list of best bets, and it's not all necessarily in the gulf. Many rock piles and several artificial reefs inside Tampa Bay have produced keeper grouper recently. Those trolling the edges of the ships channel and other stretches of hard-bottom areas have reported outstanding catches. Three- to 4-ounce jig heads with big curly tails trolled behind a No. 3 planer have been among the most productive. Experiment with colors, but pearl, white and pink are hard to beat. Gold bomber lures and even big king spoons will also produce bites.
Inshore: Sheepshead are fattening up in preparation for their spawn. Look for them in marinas, along rock jetties, bridge pilings and other areas with abundant structure. Silver trout will swarm to the natural hard-bottom areas along beaches, and Redington, Madeira and Treasure Island have long been among the most prolific hot spots. A bottom recorder can reveal their whereabouts, as well as diving birds. Without the benefit of electronics, start on the swim buoys and drift out until you locate them. Often the big bunches will gather in 12 to 17 feet of water. Fish them with light spin tackle.
Land-based angling: Since the mackerel action has tapered, pier operators at both Skyway piers report grouper among the headliners. Particularly on the outgoing tide when anglers are able to drift pinfish to the edges of the reefs built from the old bridge rubble along the west side. There have been recent catches of pompano and trout.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.