What's hot: This fall's kingfish run has been disappointing. We have encountered small schools in most of the usual spots (shipping channel and artificial reefs). The majority caught have been on hardware — trolling spoons and plugs behind Nos. 1, 2 and 3 planers at a speed of 6 knots, which lets us cover more structure than slow trolling live baits. But three species have more than compensated. Spanish mackerel, barracuda and gag grouper have provided drag-pulling action most days. Spanish mackerel have left the near shore because of dirty water and are on mid-water artificial reefs, like South County, Indian Shores, Rube Alyn and Veteran's. Barracuda are feeding heavily on the mackerel and blue runners on these reefs and cannot resist a slow-trolled blue pulled over the high profile structures.
Tip: Gag grouper season is closed for harvesting, but there is no restriction for catch and release. Most grouper trolling is along the shipping channel in 30-35 feet. Targeting these depths in the gulf will produce great results using No. 3 planers, with large broken backed gold plugs with small lips, large blue spoons, or large curly-tailed jigs. Trolling speed should be 5 knots when seeking grouper.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.