What's hot: Water temperature that kingfish and mackerel like and an abundance of bait have drawn good numbers of those fish to many familiar haunts. We caught a dozen schoolie-size kings Tuesday slow trolling live baits around Markers 9 and 10 in the ship channel. Other top-producing areas this week have included the "parking lot" — a large area of hard bottom in 28-30 feet off St. Pete Beach — the Blinds Pass drop in 20 feet and the St. Pete Beach artificial reef.
Weather patterns: Large schools of bait that attract kings and mackerel will come and go as weather patterns change. Westerly wind from passing fronts will muddy near-shore waters and push bait offshore. A normal pattern of easterly wind will allow water to clear and draw bait back to the beach.
Tips: The Egmont ship channel has long been a popular spot for hunting kingfish. Bait is often attracted to the markers that line the channel, and productive fishing is often dictated by the set holding the most bait. Each set is approximately 11/2 miles apart. I'll often start at 9 or 10 and work my way out until we find fish.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.