Other than for anglers who cast-net mullet, this weekend's weather has done little to enhance fishing. Strong wind and cool temperatures that tend to cause mullet to gather in massive schools also stir up nearshore waters and scatter bait.
As weather improves, so will the fishing, especially as grouper move into shallow water. On a recent trip we caught gags, the largest 15 pounds, in 22 feet. For mangrove snapper, triggerfish, Key West grunts and black sea bass, you don't have to go deeper than 40 feet.
Top baits vary. Pinfish are always an asset, but don't leave the dock without frozen bait, too. Squid and sardines work well, and I have found no fish that won't eat a shad, frozen or otherwise.
Each cold front diminishes hope of a late push of kingfish. There will, however, be some caught by grouper diggers willing to fly-line a live bait. When the water clears patient anglers slow-trolling large baits along the beaches can find a straggler.
- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.