What's hot: Kingfish and mackerel continue to be among the best bets, and you don't have to travel far. Pier operators at both Skyway fishing piers report outstanding mackerel catches and particularly good kingfish action during last week's outgoing tides. We've caught kings and macks on my last few trips and haven't gone beyond depths of 21 feet, only a mile or two from shore. Bait schools have been drawn back into the shallows along Blinds Pass and St. Pete Beach, and the kings and mackerel have followed. We caught our largest kings while slow-trolling shad, ladyfish and juvenile mackerel. Nearly all the mackerel preferred whitebait and greenbacks.
Tips: This time of year you can't always count on supplementing your bait supply by jigging baits on gold hook rigs or throwing cast nets. Do all you can to gather bait — ladyfish, large minnow, mullet or trout — before venturing out.
Even hotter: Bottom fishing in 45 feet Tuesday was so good we caught a half dozen keeper grouper on our balloon baits intended for kingfish. We caught kings up to 25 pounds, cobia, bonito, red grouper and gags on one spot southwest of Pass-a-Grille.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.