What's hot: Easterly winds have allowed the nearshore waters along the gulf beaches to clear and schools of full-grown mackerel have settled in to take advantage of bait schools drawn inshore. Saturday, a patch reef off St. Pete Beach in 21 feet provided nonstop action for the last three hours of the incoming tide. We caught three dozen of the Spanish speedsters, most 2 to 4 pounds. Jacks, blue runners, ladyfish and a few large speckled trout worked up our chum line. Pack grouper rods. We yanked keepers and short grouper out of the tires and concrete that make up much of the reef.
What's ahead: Though we didn't catch kingfish, with clean water and all their favorite food fish readily available, it only will be a matter of time and cooler water temperature before the numbers show up.
Technique: While trolling has long been effective with mackerel, there's not much better than having them crashing and thrashing in your chum behind the boat while anchored. Offer a chum bag and keep it flowing, and periodically toss some crippled "livies'' out back to dance on the surface.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.