Mangrove snapper, tarpon and, believe or not, kingfish have been high on the list of species to target … and there has been a good bunch of each. Last week's full moon helped reignite a mango bite that frankly didn't need much stoking. We have consistently done well working the edges of the shipping channel in Tampa Bay. Others have reported equally productive catches on the structure at the artificial reefs, bridges, piers and docks in the bay. Gathering bait has been instrumental for success. We have easily caught perfect-sized whitebait on the Snell Isle flats lately, and reports indicate they're on grass flats nearly everywhere. The full moon often brings out the best in nighttime tarpon fishing, and this month has been no exception. The fish chewed best after the sun set and while the moon was rising after dark along the gulf beaches of Manatee County. Similar reports came from fishing buddies in Clearwater. We jumped a tarpon while snapper fishing near Port Manatee, and there were some tarpon caught and let go by the "Bootleg" near Gandy Bridge over the weekend. Incredibly, kingfish have refused to leave the herds of bait gathered at the outer markers of the Egmont Channel. Jiggle up what's there on gold hook rigs, preferably Spanish sardines, and slow troll the perimeter of the bait pods. You'll likely have to deal with some bonito, barracuda and a shark or two, but many of the kings have been in the 20-pound class.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.