Howling winds and rough seas thwarted any attempt to get offshore over the weekend. When the weather settles look for productive bottom fishing starting in 50-foot depths. On our last trip just before this latest blow, working an area of natural hard bottom in just over 50 feet was on fire. We had non-stop action on a one-stop trip with mangrove snapper, gag and red grouper. Our bycatch included hogfish, triggerfish, porgies, sheepshead, mackerel and as many Key West grunts as we wanted. Ten dozen shrimp, a box of squid and a couple boxes of frozen sardines is what kept them chewing. I don't usually go offshore without a well full of live bait. This time of year, however, we can sometimes get away with it. During winter, when the water is cold, we've at times done equally as well on the dead stuff as we have on live bait. Though I'd prefer a frisky white bait when targeting mangos, they won't ignore a fresh shrimp and you won't catch any hogfish on white bait. There is also a lot to be said about not getting wet throwing a cast net on these cold mornings.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.