What's hot: Traditionally each year around this time, schools of silver trout settle in over the hard-bottom areas just off our gulf beaches. They will swarm over stretches from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater but none better than the crunchy bottom in 12-17 feet a half-mile north and south of the Redington Long Pier. They can be caught two at a time on light-spin tackle and tandem-rigged jigs — store-bought or homemade.
Tackle: Because of their abrasive mouths, I'll make my leaders with 30-pound monofilament. A quarter-ounce jighead on the bottom and eighth-ounce above allows for longer casts and gets down quicker. Soft rubber curly and paddle tails work well, and colors vary. Pale pink, white and root beer have produced, but we'll mix it up to determine what they prefer on a given day.
Tips: Silvers might be located with your bottom recorder. When you're in them good, they show up as a mass much like a bait school. Often ganged up under balls of glass minnows, diving birds are another sign of their whereabouts. When they're thick, it won't matter. But if the water is muddy or the fish are spread out, tipping your jigs with a piece of shrimp can help.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.