By JAY MASTRY
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001
Tarpon fishing has dominated the action along the Suncoast and will continue to. A 175-pounder was landed at the Sunshine Skyway, and many others have been caught and released inside Tampa Bay.
Until August, don't leave home without your fighting belt. Larger numbers of silver kings likely will show up later, but the bigger bruisers will be taken until the full moon in June, when many will spawn and shed extra pounds.
Though beach fishing is a safe bet to improve over the next several weeks, time might be better spent in bays, rivers and backwaters.
Favorable weather has led to several options offshore. Kingfish won't abandon our area until the water temperature rises above 80. A 280-degree compass course out of Pass-a-Grille for 20 miles or more will get you in the vicinity of the shrimp boats. You'll want to work for blackfin tuna that have hung around. And our last couple of trips to wrecks in 60 feet of water have produced amberjack up to 40 pounds.
A short stop at the marker buoys leading to the Whistler buoy in the Egmont Channel have provided enough blue runners to fill the baitwell. Though Spanish sardines and cigar minnows on gold hook rigs will work better for grouper, snapper, and scamp, the biggest and baddest amberjack prefer the larger "frisky runners."
- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.