What's hot: Light east winds have helped to clean the water and stack bait close to shore, and the gamefish are responding. Spanish mackerel, cobia and tarpon can be found within 100 yards of shore. Shark fishing remains good in Tampa Bay.
Tactics: Slick, calm conditions have made it easy to spot rolling tarpon. Take your time when moving into wherever tarpon are holding and free-line live pinfish or threadfins behind the boat. All the Spanish mackerel you can handle can be caught on free-lined pilchards.
Tip: Cobia and Spanish mackerel respond well to a fresh chum block. Chum heavy with frozen chum blocks and cut pilchards in order to bring the action right behind the boat.
Getting the bait: Schools of mixed-sized pilchards can be found close to shore all along the beaches. Look for pelicans diving to indicate their presence. Use quarter-inch mesh cast net to keep from gilling the smaller baits.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.