By now, I've usually put away my kingfish tackle and turned to the back-breaking, drag-screaming thrill of tarpon. This year I'm waiting a minute because there are plenty of kings yet to be caught. On Thursday we caught all we wanted by 10 a.m. at Markers 1 and 2 in the Egmont Channel. An acre of Spanish sardines has settled around the buoys, and it's no surprise the kings have found them. There are bonito in with them, and you'll likely deal with a shark or two, but the action is fast and furious. We also observed schools of high-rolling, tail-slapping tarpon in the tide at the 90-foot hole at Egmont, and there have been fish at the Skyway bridge for weeks. Many early season tarpon infiltrate bays and backwaters. Terra Ceia Bay and the Manatee River have long been personal favorite "honey holes." In Tampa Bay the first places we'll peek at are the "Bootleg," Gadsen Point, "Westinghouse" and "Lizard Flats". If you don't mind fishing in a crowd, Bean Point can be as productive as anywhere. If looking for a little something better to eat, mangrove snapper continue to roam the rocky edges of the ships channel. On Saturday we caught mangrove snapper, red and gag grouper and a cobia bouncing the bottom with whitebait and pinfish at the mouth of Tampa Bay.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.