The effects of Hermine did little to phase the mangrove snapper bite in Tampa Bay. Despite tannic-stained water from rain and runoff, we wore them out Tuesday morning on the outgoing tide. We caught more than three dozen mangos, a dozen or so mackerel, a handful of flounder and a snook on a rock pile in plain view of what's left of the being-demolished downtown pier. Even bait schools that had been scattered in high winds and rough seas have gotten back together — at least in northeast St. Petersburg — and have begun returning to the flats. Since the blow, some juvenile greenbacks have ganged up with what had been nearly all perfect-sized whitebait. Much of the bait we've caught lately is in only 2-3 feet of water. Throw your quarter-inch mesh net. You'll likely catch some full-grown whitebait, big enough for tarpon, kingfish or grouper. Many will be the preferred 3-inch whitebait for the mangos, some will be too small to effectively use for anything other than chum. The small mesh will catch them all, particularly in the skinny water. The storm didn't scare off all the tarpon either. Buddies reported witnessing two land-based anglers battling silver kings from shore: one on the gulf pier at Fort De Soto and the other on the St. Petersburg side of the Gandy near the radio towers.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.