What's hot: At last, the local water temperature is primed for kingfish and other migratory species. Nearshore artificial reefs from 3 to 10 miles offshore and hard-bottom areas within 2 miles of the beach are key target areas.
Bait: Those willing to sacrifice sleep for a predawn cast net session will likely experience some fantastic fishing. Bait has been scarce along the beaches, so throwing the cast net along bridge shadow lines has been the most consistent way to fill the live well. Threadfin herring, scaled sardines and shad can all be netted on the same cast. Take all the small- to medium-sized threadfins out of the well and place them on ice. These fickle baitfish die quickly and their scales floating in the live well put other baits at risk.
Chum heavy: Keeping a fresh chum block out while anchored will help attract fish, but what really works is continually cutting the fresh threadfins into small pieces right off the transom of the boat. The combination of oil and the glittery flash of the pieces drifting away from the boat will drive the kingfish crazy.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.