What's hot: While it will steadily improve the rest of this month and through March, there are already good numbers of Spanish mackerel being caught at some fishing piers. Thursday I saw dozens of mackerel landed on the south Skyway fishing pier and others at the gulf pier at Fort De Soto. Some were barely legal size and some were full grown. Water clarity was much improved on the southern end of the Skyway compared to the north side, and the abundance of bait there was clearly why it was more productive.
Bait and tackle: Large greenbacks could be seen flashing just under the surface on the uptide side of the structure. Anglers jigged up greenbacks, assorted whitebait, blue runners and pinfish with little effort. An assortment of flashy artificials were even more effective. Gotcha plugs, silver spoons, or the increasingly popular oversized gold hook rigs worked best.
Tips: The plus-size rigs for jigging are similar to the traditional gold hook rigs only beefier. Some, like the No. 18 and No. 20, only have a couple of hooks instead of six. The main line, however, is 50- or 60-pound test and the branch line to the hooks is 30- to 40-pound test, preventing some cutoffs.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.