What's hot: Calm conditions offshore have allowed us to get to triple-digit depths in pursuit of the American red snapper before the season closes July 17. Fishing in 120 to 140 feet of water west of St. Pete Beach, we caught a box full of red snapper at one spot, and then roamed for red grouper and several large mangrove snapper. Red grouper were prevalent at each drop. Large yellowtail snapper were among the bonus catches, and a school of dolphin showed up. We did equally as well on dead bait as live stuff but we wouldn't want to go without both.
What else: Gag grouper have required less travel distance. Good numbers of keeper-sized fish have settled into depths as shallow as 30 to 50 feet. Start with dead bait to get the scent going on the bottom. Send down live bait when the bite slows.
Tarpon fever: Daytime tarpon fishing along the beaches of Manatee County tapered this past week. Late afternoon, evening and night bites have been more productive, typical during the full moon phase. I've had success over the years fishing the rising moon during this period. The rise changes daily but now begins around midnight. Look for the morning bite to pick up as we get farther from this phase.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.