What's hot: While fishing the gulf has been difficult and a bit bumpy because of the passing storms, the protected waters of Tampa Bay have remained fishable and a variety of species have flourished.
Variety of options: Mackerel can be observed crashing bait schools from the Sunshine Skyway to the Gandy and there are a couple of ways to cash in. Anchoring over a patch of hard bottom or at one of the deeper-water range markers with a chum block and a baitwell full of live chummers will often draw a frenzy to the back of your boat. The run-and-gun technique can at times be effective if the crashing schools stay up long enough to throw spoons or a variety of other fake baits into them.
Late season schools of tarpon are roaming the bay and a good bet is to focus on areas holding an abundance of bait. Areas around the G-cut stretch of the ships channel, the Bootleg and the areas of hard bottom near Rocky Point have held silverkings lately. Grouper and mangrove snapper are among the best bets and good numbers have consistently roamed the edges of the shipping channel near the mouth of Tampa Bay.
Another pick of the month is pompano. Better than average numbers have gathered at a few of the major bridges in the bay. John Young and Jeff Mastry have averaged 15 to 20 pompano on each of their last several trips while working the Meisner, Gandy and Howard Frankland bridges. Nearly all have been caught on tandem rigged, yellow Doc's jigs.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.