Because we rarely get a week's worth of calm seas in January, now might be the time to head offshore.
Tuesday, we sought amberjack in 105 feet at a wreck off Longboat Key. Drifting a ledge in 45 feet produced all the full-grown pinfish we needed. Tipping the gold hooks on a jiggle rig with squid will more than make up for the time it takes doing it when gathering bait.
Stops in 50 and 45 feet on the way in produced a half-dozen keeper grouper. All were enticed by frozen sardines, and the 30-pound tackle outperformed the heavier stuff.
For those wanting an easier time, silver trout have arrived at Redington. In 10-20 feet, they are chewing every color rubber tail on tandem rig jigs. Pale pink is a personal favorite.
Occasional keeper grouper can be caught along the edge of the shipping channel in the bay by those patient enough to keep a big bait down. Pieces of squid will catch you all the Key West grunts you care to. Pieces of shrimp will perform better for the mangrove snapper, flounder and sheepshead that roam the rock-laden edges.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.