What's hot: When the weather improves after Fay, look for the mangrove snapper bite to heat up along the rocky edges of the shipping channel in Tampa Bay. Fish the hours surrounding the tide changes for the best results. The slower tidal flow will allow baits to be effectively presented on bottom with 2 ounces of lead or less in the 25- to 40-foot depths. Heavier weight will allow baits to be stolen and bites harder to detect. I like 20-pound test for my mainline and a length of 30 pounds for leaders. The heavier stuff will often help in wrestling the aggressive fighters out of their rocky domains. Shrimp and cut bait are often effective, but for the bigger ones, whitebait and small pinfish can't be beat.
Exciting alternative: If looking for a little break from traditional hook-and-line fishing, from now until Sept. 10, scalloping can be a fun and memorable experience for the whole family. Snorkeling in only 5-7 feet allows even kids to get in on the action. We loaded a couple of boats full of folks Sunday and headed to Bayport, just more than an hour drive from St. Petersburg. We found the scallops plentiful, and each boat gathered the 10-gallon limit. During the outgoing tide, the water was clear and visibility great. Stinging jellyfish that had been a nuisance earlier in the season were nowhere to be found. On the incoming tide, the water dirtied some, and only then did we observe some jellyfish on the surface.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.