Cold fronts that pass through will lower water temperatures and change fishing conditions. Areas close to the beach that were holding schools of kingfish, mackerel, bluefish and sharks will become dirty and unproductive. Look for bait and fish to move farther offshore where water is clearer. The first place to look is reefs that are 5 miles from the beach. The 30-foot hard bottom off St. Pete Beach, the T. I. Reef and the Madeira Beach reef are good places to start. Most of these fish are feeding on white bait and sardines. Chum the spot with live bait to see if the location is holding fish. If you don't see surface strikes, move to the next stop. When you find surface action, rig a few rods with a long shank hook and cast where you see strikes. Mackerel and kings will hit the bait and return to pick up the pieces. Don't set the hook until you feel the fish bending the rod tip. Look for areas where birds are working the surface. Most of the smaller birds look to feed on the remnants of bait fish left on the surface after the macks and kings strike a school of bait. Stop upwind of the birds and drift through the area the birds are working. If that doesn't work, troll the same area with small spoons until you locate a spot holding fish. Gold spoons and mono leaders have been the most productive trolling rigs. Bring a few extra spoons because mackerel will cut the mono leader.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.