Burnt out on kingfishing? Not quite ready to match muscles with the mighty silver king? A little laid-back mangrove snapper fishing in the bay could be an alternative.
Sharon Kaye has been wearing them out along the edge of the ships channel at the mouth of Tampa Bay. With a few in the 3- to 5-pound range, most have been caught west of the Skyway Bridge, but other reports have come from as far inside as the C-Cut section of the channel. Three-inch whitebait would be my first choice, but live shrimp also will work. Take a stout rod if you go, because inevitably at this time of year there is going to be a large grouper or two on the same rocky edges.
There are still kingfish to be caught if you haven't had your fill. We caught 21 on Saturday anchored over a ledge in 70 feet southwest of John's Pass. They devoured the Spanish Sardines and cigar minnows we were able to jiggle up on gold hook rigs.
With as much bait as has gathered at the Betty Rose and the adjacent South County artificial reef, it's no surprise these locations are among the best bets.
Tarpon have been in the bays and backwaters for a couple weeks. The three major bridges have attracted some. Schools have been observed in the gulf and any day now, the beaches along the Suncoast will be crawling with them.
- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.