What's hot: Mangrove snapper fishing inside Tampa Bay is as good as I can recall. And in this current full moon phase, it could get even better. The edges of the main ships channel from the Sunshine Skyway bridge for several miles inside are made up of ledges, undercuts and natural rock bottom. At this time of year, mangos — many grown — gang up on these spots. We've caught them lately on incoming and outgoing tides.
Bait and tackle: An abundance of just-the-right-size whitebaits have been easy to grab with a cast net on the flats near Pinellas Point. When the snapper are on the bottom, I like a 2-ounce egg sinker above a 11/2-foot length of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 hook. A free-lined bait, no weight and a light line can provide incredible action on light spin or conventional tackle once it is raised to the top and has no structure on which to break off.
Tip: With a five-fish-per-person limit on mangos, be selective. Once cleaned, a 12-inch mango won't yield much of a filet. Wait for the bigger ones.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.