What's hot: The mouth of Tampa Bay is alive. From the Sunshine Skyway bridge to Egmont Key, schools of jacks, ladyfish and mackerel are crashing schools of glass minnows and small fry baits. Huge flocks of seabirds hovering over the frenzies give away their whereabouts. Easing up to the schools and pitching natural or a variety of fake baits likely will produce bites. Anchoring and allowing them to come to you will provide even more.
Tips: At this time of year, grouper and mango bunch up along the rock-laden edges of the shipping channel. Anchor, and between grouper bites, the other species will keep you busy. On Thursday, during the last of the incoming tide and the beginning of the outgoing, we managed six keeper grouper while weeding through shorts and mangos. Mackerel, cobia, ladyfish and jacks were among our bycatch.
Bait and tackle: Whitebait works for mangos and smaller stuff; pinfish, shad, grunts, large whitebait and greenbacks for grouper. Use 20-pound tackle for mangos and light spin tackle for macks. Use stout rods for grouper. Many are big, and the rocks are treacherous. We couldn't stop several, even with 50-pound tackle and 60-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.