What's hot: A week of easterly winds let the nearshore waters along our gulf beaches clear, and the annual invasion of silver trout has begun. Each year at about this time, they settle into the rocky bottom areas just off the shore from St. Petersburg to Clearwater. My first choice is the area of natural hard bottom about a half-mile north of Redington Long Pier.
Tactics: Start just outside the swim buoys and drift out. Your bottom recorder might reveal their whereabouts. They often appear as a mass, similar to bait schools. Diving birds pounding the glass minnows also is a sign.
Tackle: Store-bought tandem rigged jigs work great, or make your own. I like a length of 30-pound leader with a jig head of an eighth-ounce on the top and quarter-ounce on the bottom. The combination allows for longer casts and gets down quicker. Experiment with a variety of colored tails. Conditions often dictate which work best. In clear water, pale pink curly tails are among my favorites. Take extra tails because the soft, rubber tails are no match for the sharp teeth of mackerel and bluefish that gorge themselves on the glassies and fry-baits in the same area.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.