What's hot: The one-word answer is, everything. When given the choice, most clients opt for a combination of trolling and bottom fishing. We usually start on an artificial reef targeting Spanish mackerel, the occasional kingfish that did not migrate to the Panhandle, bonita and barracuda.
Tactics: All can be caught using planers, spoons and plugs, but we have had more success slow-trolling live baits caught with a Sabiki rig. Bonita can be seen crashing into bait almost anywhere and provide drag-screaming action on light tackle. It can be frustrating to get them to bite even though they can be seen actively feeding. We have found it is imperative to "match the hatch" or offer something that matches what they are feeding on. We will troll three lines on the perimeter of the activity. One will be a No. 1 planer followed by either a 00 gold spoon or a small white or yellow jig in case they are feeding on glass minnows. Another will be a No. 2 planer with a larger king spoon in case they are striking Spanish sardines. The third will be a small, hard-bodied plug with a small lip.
Tip: Our bottom fishing has been done close to the mid water artificial reefs in 50-60 feet. And we have returned with a mixed bag of red and gag grouper, white grunts, porgies and a few mangrove snapper.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.
Stephen F. Holder