What's hot: Sheepshead have ganged up in preparation for their annual spawn, and one of the routes they choose is along the ship channel in the mouth of Tampa Bay. On Thursday we caught nearly three dozen just inside the Sunshine Skyway bridge and many were roe-laden females. Good numbers of mangrove snapper were a bonus. Halves of live shrimp proved irresistible. Scrappy Key West grunts and juvenile grouper ensured us a bite nearly every time down during the last couple of hours of the outgoing tide.
A growing concern: A few years ago, reports of hooking a porpoise were rare. I had gone most of my life without ever hooking one. But during the last couple of years I have accidentally hooked porpoise while tarpon fishing and kingfishing.
Thursday we had a pair of overzealous porpoise inhale over a dozen of our hooked fish while fighting them to the surface, often only a few feet from the boat. Where this aggression began is unclear. Perhaps the Red Tide a few years ago depleted much of their food source, causing them to take chances to survive. Or perhaps we anglers have unintentionally contributed to the problem by feeding them.
Whichever the case, there has been a change in their behavioral pattern, and it has not been for the better. Many of these gentle giants have become too friendly and it may be hazardous to their health. By resisting the temptation to feed these mammals we may help reverse this dangerous trend.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.