Nearshore waters are full of bait and fish now. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobia and tripletail have followed the masses of baitfish into our area. All of these semi-seasonal fish can be targeted from right along the beach to many miles offshore. Strong offshore winds the past several days have not presented the best conditions for offshore runs; however, nearshore waters have been protected by the shoreline and remained very fishable. Hard bottom areas a couple of miles from shore are holding big schools of Spanish mackerel, a few kingfish and some big spinner sharks. Anchor up around bait and bird activity and live chum with pilchards to get a frenzy going behind the boat. Medium spinning tackle with a 40-pound leader and a long shank hook works great for the Spanish mackerel and smaller kings. Prepare a large capacity conventional or spinning rod set up with a stinger rig for when a smaller mackerel is caught in order to target larger kingfish and the spinner sharks. Plenty of cobia have been caught in the past week so have a large spinning outfit set up when they show up behind the boat. Stone crab traps have been out for a while and are attracting tripletail. Spend a bit of time running traps at the end of the day and you're likely to spot a couple. A live pilchard under a float usually works but live shrimp is almost a guarantee.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.