What's hot: Gusty winds and frigid water temperatures associated with each passing cold front have taken their toll. Between fronts, there are some opportunities. Silver trout are a winter staple and less cold-water conscious than most. On a trip in 55-degree water we caught more than 200 feisty silvers just outside the swim buoys on Redington Beach.
Allow a couple days of easterly winds to clear the nearshore water for best results. Increasing numbers of sheepshead are showing up. Being able to fish them in the protected waters of the bays and canals makes them among the best bets. Anglers out of Mastry's Bait and Tackle reported a good number of pompano and permit showed up over the weekend. Area passes, including Bunces and Pass-a-Grille, often hold the best numbers.
Offshore: With red snapper season closed and gag grouper closed through March, offshore trips have largely been limited to amberjack in 60-plus feet and mangrove snapper a bit closer in.
Great catches: The Southern Kingfish Association's first tournament of the season kicked off in Key West with some impressive action. Five smokers more than 50 pounds were landed, including the winning 55.35-pounder. Several area teams made the leaderboard, including St. Petersburg's Brian Hasson, whose team won the 23-foot-and-under division with a 46.90-pounder.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.