What's hot: Just off St. Pete Beach in 24 feet of water, there's plenty of action. Spanish mackerel, cobia, barracuda, spinner sharks and small kingfish are easy pickings.
Bait: Live bait is key, and make sure the livewell is full of it. Whitebait (scaled sardines) should be the main attraction. Greenbacks (threadfin herring) work too, but they're just not as hearty. Hook the bait through the pectoral fins to get it flashing and acting extremely erratic. Free-line the offerings.
Tackle: Use light tackle rods in the 8- to 15-pound category for these fish. Twenty-pound braided line is best because the sharks, barracuda and kings can get into the 40-pound range. Just make sure the reel has a full spool of line or the anchor buoy will get thrown and the chase will be on. But that might happen anyway.
Terminal tackle: Thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader will allow for the most bites. But a short piece of No. 1 wire is best to avoid the obvious with the toothy villains. Long shank No. 1 or 1/0 hooks are far easier to remove than short shanks, and if the bite slows, just use the 30-pound fluorocarbon and long shank hook to get the bite going again.
Tip: Set up with a chum block to help draw the fish in and get them in a feeding frenzy.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.