What's hot: The weather would come in first place with offshore fishing a close second. Spanish mackerel fishing has been as good as it gets for several weeks on all of the artificial reefs located 5 to 7 miles offshore. The baitfish on these reefs remains small, so use 0 and 00 spoons or small streamer flies pulled behind a No. 1 planer or small trolling sinker. Barracudas have finally made a strong appearance on these reefs. Blue runners are available and slow trolling one on a stinger rig often gets a strike.
Bottom fishing for red grouper, white grunts, mangrove snapper and triggerfish is exceptional in 70-90 feet. Target the transitional area where the sand bottom joins the swiss cheese limestone. Try frozen sardines, squid, cut grunts, pinfish and squirrelfish until the correct bait is determined.
Last week, we started with Spanish mackerel and barracuda on the artificial reefs, then traveled to the 75-foot depths west of John's Pass for bottom fishing. A stinger-rigged flat line with a frozen sardine produced a mid 20-pound kingfish. Shortly after that, Bud Hunt landed and released a sailfish after a 45-minute battle on spinning tackle.
Tip: Always deploy a flatline while bottom fishing.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.