If weather reports are accurate, the next few days will be a challenge. Once this front passes, there will be opportunities to tangle with a variety of species. With water temperatures still hovering around 70, it's little surprise that reports of kingfish continue to trickle in. The last ones we caught were half way out the ships channel while anchored on the edge bottom fishing. Others have been caught off Sand Key in Clearwater and the "parking lot" 6 miles out of Blinds Pass. Much of the offshore crowd has been targeting the hogfish bite that continues to be red hot. Take a bunch of shrimp or fiddlers. You'll likely weed through a batch of grunts, juvenile red and gag grouper, and other bottom-dwellers between hog bites. Now is the most productive time to dig for shallow-water grouper. We managed a handful of keeper gags on our last trip in 48 feet, but mangrove snapper stole the show. Several of our largest whacked frozen sardines intended for grouper. Looking to fire up the smoker for the holidays? Now's the time! Mullet get together, often in huge, tight schools and leave the bays, rivers and backwaters as they make their way to the gulf to spawn.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.