What's hot: Kingfish will be popular this weekend, particularly because of today's King of the Beach tournament hosted by the Old Salt Fishing Foundation. In spite of small-craft advisories early in the week and breezy conditions since, the easterly flow of the wind has spared the nearshore waters along the gulf from muddying too badly, and bait schools have remained bunched up. In current conditions, those with modest-sized boats and single engines can be competitive. Many 40-plus pounders have been caught within a mile or two of the beach, and if the bait stays balled up in there, it's a good bet there will be one or two nearby.
Hot spots: Along the beaches there are a handful of spots that traditionally hold big fish. The Clearwater and Redington Beach hard-bottom areas, often in 20 feet or less, are always worth a look. The shallow but rocky bottom where the Indian Rocks Pier once extended into the gulf is a prime spot. The piles of rubble in what remains of artificial reefs in 20 feet off Blinds Pass and St. Pete Beach are tried and true.
Tip: Don't overlook the bait schools bunched up just outside the swim buoys along each of these areas. A properly presented bait produce a winning king.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.