What's hot: Kingfish. A fair share have been caught considerably nearer to shore, and numbers are increasing. Already in this fall run that has just begun, we've caught kingfish a mile or two off Sand Key in Clearwater, Blinds Pass and St. Pete Beach. Saturday, we caught five kingfish and never made it outside Egmont Key.
Next-best thing: Mackerel fishing continues to thrive. Some days 3- and 4-pounders are the norm, with bigger ones mixed in. Anchored and live chumming using 3-inch whitebait has been most effective. Light spinning tackle provides the best action, but you may want tackle with 150-200 yards of line capacity. A kingfish won't hesitate to whack a bait intended for mackerel, and you'll need the time and line if you have to throw the anchor jug and run one down.
Bait tips: Whitebait is always my first choice for mackerel. My favorite kingfish baits vary. When fishing the hard bottom in Clearwater, I prefer a shad slow trolled or suspended beneath a balloon. When tournament fishing the hole at Egmont, I like a 15-inch ladyfish trolled on a downrigger. In the outer markers of the Egmont ship channel, offshore wrecks and reefs, a bluerunner is tough to beat.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.