Saturday, December 16, 2017
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Artificial reefs have Spanish mackerel, kingfish bonita, barracuda

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.

Rays

Marc Topkin

@TBTimes_Rays

Joe Smith

@TBTimes_Rays2

Lightning

Damian Cristodero

@LightningTimes

Sports Columnists

Gary Shelton

@Gary_Shelton

Tom Jones:

@TomWJones

Bucs

Rick Stroud

@NFLStroud

Stephen F. Holder

@HolderStephen

USF Bulls

Greg Auman

@GregAuman

UF Gators

Antonya English

@gatornews

HomeTeam

@TBHomeTeam

Comments

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17