What's heating up: Water temperature in the high 60s, bunches of bait ganging up, and schools of mackerel and bonita that traditionally arrive just ahead of the kingfish have begun to appear. Schools of whitebait and greenbacks have been drawn to the Skyway fishing piers. Anglers were hauling bonita and mackerel over the rails Saturday. Some were caught on spoons, but most were landed on live bait that was easily cast-netted or jiggled on gold hook rigs. Pier operators reported bluefish and grouper also have been providing action on the outgoing tides. The majority of gags prefer live pinfish, which are available along the structure.
Best bets: Sheepshead, in their spawning mode, will gather in marinas, around bridges and along the jetties of the passes. Silver trout fishing had been exceptional along the hard-bottom areas just off Redington Beach and that action likely will continue, but it may be awhile. Westerly winds associated with each passing front tend to muddy the nearshore waters and scatter the schools. Returning to a normal weather pattern with light easterly winds for a few days will allow the water to clear and draw the schools back to the 15-foot depths.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.