What's hot: Recent strong winds have hampered offshore activity. However, the easterly flow has kept the nearshore waters along the gulf beaches fishable. East winds allow the protected waters along our coast to stay relatively clean and tend to draw schools of bait. Mackerel and some kingfish have pushed their way into 17-20 feet to take advantage. Consistent catches have been reported within a mile or two off St. Pete Beach, Blind Pass, Treasure Island, Redington and Indian Rocks Beach.
Tactics: If the tide is moving and I believe a bunch of fish are around, we'll anchor and chum. A chum block and cut slivers of fresh bait will let you know quickly if anybody's home. Anchoring over a patch of hard bottom lets you bottom fish at the same time. On a slack or slow tide, trolling can be more productive. Kingfish and mackerel prefer to strike a frisky, moving bait. When fish are scarce or scattered, trolling will cover more area.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.