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Captain's Corner

Easterly winds had allowed the gulf's nearshore waters to clear and draw massive schools of mackerel, bluefish and silver trout.

By JAY MASTRY
Published January 16, 2007


What's hot: Easterly winds had allowed the gulf's nearshore waters to clear and draw massive schools of mackerel, bluefish and silver trout. During the weekend, from John's Pass to north of Redington, gulls and pelicans pounded the surface on baitfish.

Although kingfish aren't traditionally known to winter in our area, they are a surprise catch for offshore grouper diggers. Joe Lowery's 20-pounder was caught while suspending a live bait beneath a balloon in 65 feet of water west of Pass-a-Grille. Larry Mastry had kingfish and bonito fighting over the live bait on hard bottom off Clearwater.

Tactics: A concentration of diving birds show the best activity, or use a bottom recorder. Masses of bait, silver trout and other species will show up on your machine. Silver trout won't move much. The mackerel and bluefish will roam around and stay with the largest concentration of bait.

Tackle: Fake bait on light tackle is all that's needed for most of the nearshore species. Tandem-rigged jigs are hard to beat. Quarter-ounce jig heads will get the job done in the 10- to 17-foot depths. Assorted colored soft rubbertails round out the rig. We did best on pink, rootbeer and silver-sparkled curly ones. Take a bunch of spare tails.

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