Daily fishing report

Published October 1, 2006

October opens the window of opportunity for a variety of species. It's the traditional time of year when grouper roam into the shallower depths and also well inside the bay, making them accessible to smaller boats. Kingfish begin appearing in better numbers on the offshore reefs and wrecks.

Early arrivals will often gather near the outer buoys of the Egmont ships channel, and soon reports of lunkers being hooked by land-based anglers on Redington Long Pier and the Skyway piers will begin trickling in. It's my favorite time of year to focus on the schools of full-grown mackerel that gang up in areas like Southwest pass, the "Parking Lot" in 30 feet of water off Blinds Pass, or the Clearwater Hard Bottom.

It's hard to beat witnessing the explosions in the chum line of frenzied 4- and 5-pound mackerel as they erupt on the live chum behind the boat. Light spinning tackle with a foot-long length of No. 1 wire, or 30-pound test monofilament leader with a long-shank hook work well. Mangrove snapper will continue to be among the best bets and most consistent along the edges of the ships channel into the bay. We caught them Thursday morning, with a few in the 3- to 4-pound class between the Skyway and Egmont on the outgoing tide.

Other better-than-average mangrove snapper catches have been reported at the major bridges and even by those pitching baits under dock lights that were intended for snook or redfish. Pompano have remained a hot catch up the bay. Jeff Mastry and John Young have been catching them for weeks, and some of their largest, up to 3½ pounds were caught last week. Working the Gandy and Howard Franklin bridges on a moving tide has been most productive. Their best results have come on a quarter-ounce pink jig with the attached matching pink teaser.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.