What's hot: It's kingfish tournament time and though we've had a few days of inclement weather, today's Suncoast Kingfish Classic at Gators on the Pass should be impressive. Each passing cold front will produce northwest winds, which almost always churns up the gulf and muddies the water along the beaches. As the bait scatters, so will the kings that prey on them. Depending on the severity, it often takes only two or three days for the water to clear and for bait to return to the beach; the kings will surely follow.
Bait options: For those who catch and cage baits before the tournament, the past couple of days have been a challenge. Even those with enough boat to get offshore were hampered by high winds and rough seas. For small boaters and those less enthusiastic about taking a beating, there are options. Ladyfish can be caught on a variety of jigs around bridges, inside many passes and along edges of sandbars in protected waters. Bluefish may be among the by-catch. Mullet may be cast-netted in some marinas and residential canals.
Tips: If you strike out with live bait, there have been many a big kingfish caught on dead-rigged ribbonfish or even ballyhoo.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.