What's hot: While the northwest winds associated with each of these passing cold fronts has an adverse effect on nearshore mackerel and kingfishing for a few days, it can also create new opportunities. Mullet have begun to gather in larger bunches ahead of their spawning ritual in another month or so. Already, schools have started to stage well inside Tampa Bay, and they can be found along the undeveloped shoreline north of the Gandy and Howard Franklin bridges. Those looking to cast net a few for the smoker can find them along seawalls and many of the residential canals throughout the mainland. Sheepshead don't mind a cold front, and as each one passes and water temperatures drop, we'll see more of those fish. Through the next couple of months, sheepshead will flourish as they too beef up for their spawn. Pieces of shrimp, fiddler crabs, mussels and oysters are among the favorite baits.
Tips: Another winter mainstay is silver trout. As it gets colder, huge schools will settle just off the beaches. From the swim buoys to about 17 feet off Redington Beach is a go-to spot for catching them on tandem rigged jigs.
What else: Kingfishing for a few hours on Thanksgiving morning has become a tradition. A few of my most memorable trips have been at the Clearwater hard bottom off Sand Key, the Blind Pass drop in 20 feet and the "parking lot" in 28-30 feet off St. Pete Beach.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.