What's hot: Water temperatures already flirting with the 70s and bait seemingly being everywhere could suggest our fall run of kingfish is ahead of schedule. Smoker-sized kings have been caught by offshore bottom bumpers while deploying fly-lined baits. Schoolie-sized kingfish have been mixed in the mackerel schools on and around our mid depth artificial reefs, and there have been a few rogue kings skyrocketing in bait schools as shallow as 12 feet.
What's coming: Most tournaments are nearly a month away, but savvy kingfish teams are preparing. Replacing old lines or respooling reels might pay big dividends. Sticking drag washers need replacing and guides and tips inspected for burrs and cracks. The adage, "Don't fix something that ain't broken" doesn't necessarily apply to bilge and baitwell pumps. Change them before they let you down. Also, mend cast nets and stockpile gold hook rigs.
Bait: So far, it has been abundant. Schools of whitebait and greenbacks have been thick at both Fort De Soto piers. Bait at the Skyway piers has been consistent, and ladyfish and juvenile mackerel schools can be seen crashing fry baits all the way up Tampa Bay.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.