What's hot: Reminiscing with clients from the Midwest who fish with us every year in early April made us aware of the dramatic effect weather conditions and water temperature have on where we go and what species we seek. In 2012 we were targeting and catching pelagic fish — kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita, barracuda and cobia — daily. This year we kept the trolling gear in the cabin except for the catch-and-release gag grouper rigs, instead concentrating on bottom fishing for red grouper, white grunts, scamp, triggerfish and porgies.
Tips: We headed to depths of 60-70 feet in any direction from John's Pass and used a combination of Spanish sardines, squid and cut bait. The recent grouper closure caused us to switch from conventional single-hook bottom tackle to two-hook rigs on light tackle, and we remembered how much fun this allowed. We now use both methods, especially if we have children on board. Last year we concentrated our efforts for the pelagics in an area called the Triangle, a hard-bottom area located from "Times Square" to markers 1-2 and 3-4 in the shipping channel. As soon as water temperatures warm a little, we will be there with both our hardware and live-bait trolling tackle.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.