Special thanks to Captain Erick for this excellent bait report -- something we really need to pay more attention to. We'll be doing a profile on the Cap as soon as we can get him on the phone for half an hour. Thanks a ton, Captain, for helping this site be as cool as it's becoming :)
The bait was thick at the north Skyway fishing pier just at first light. It was not visible on the surface but was showing on the bottom finder at eight to fifteen feet deep. The bait is usable in the small to medium size range. I started out using the twelve foot Lee Fisher 3/8 mesh Bait Buster which worked good for the larger baits but gilled the smaller ones so I switched to the ten foot 1/4 mesh. Using the smaller mesh eliminated the gilled baits but lowered the quantity of bait do to the slower descent.
Even though the smaller net caught less bait all of the bait caught went in the live well instead of dying before they could be removed from the mesh. No chum was required to net the bait! Just pull up to the stall and keep an eye on the bottom finder or just make a blind throw at the shadow line and let the net sink for a moment. If you are new to throwing the net around the Skyway I recommend you bring someone with you to help drive the boat while you throw the net. Sometimes the current and the weather conditions along with the close proximity to the pilings can make things tricky so be safe and make good choices. The bait is out there waiting for you.