Mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel fishing have been excellent throughout Tampa Bay. Artificial reefs, rock jetties and the Sunshine Skyway bridge are places to target. Free-lined or lightly weighted pilchards pitched around structure or drifted down the chum slick over artificial reefs are sure to get noticed. A frozen chum block will help gather more fish from the structure. Live bait has been thick in the lower section of the bay. Look for birds working along shallow grass beds in the middle of the bay at first light to lead you to the bait. Tarpon of all sizes can be found around many of these structures as well as marinas and ship basins throughout the bay. You can target these fish with some of the larger pilchards or with fresh shad or mullet on the bottom. Beach fishing has also been good lately. With an abundance of baitfish holding in the swash channel, snook, mackerel and the occasional redfish school can be found gorging themselves at times. The water has been clean along the beaches, so downsizing your tackle will result in more hookups. Although most of the bait found on the beach is still on the small side, there is plenty of good-sized bait mixed in. You will still want to use a quarter-inch mesh cast net to prevent gilling baits.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.