Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Captains corner: Bait arrives, bringing our favorite predators

What's hot: Water temperature has hit the magical 72 degree mark, bringing larger baitfish such as Spanish sardines, threadfins, cigar minnows and blue runners into our area. The pelagic predators, including Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonito and cobia, are also here feeding on the baitfish to fuel their migration to the Panhandle.

Now that both red and gag grouper season is open, opportunities exist to return to port with a mixed bag of fish.

Strategy: Instead of venturing offshore with the mind-set to target only bottom fish or pelagics, we have been gearing up for both types of fishing. Normally the fishing for kingfish and mackerel is best near sunrise and sunset, so we adjust our game plan to troll at the beginning of the day. Stopping at the artificial reefs off Madeira Beach, Treasure Island or St. Petersburg Beach on the way out also presents several options. One is to fill the bait well with several types of baitfish for bottom fishing. If the bait is present, the pelagic predators will also be there, so deploying a stinger-rigged flatline while catching bait is usually productive. On many days, the two per person bag limit on kingfish will be caught before the bait well is full.

During the gag grouper closure, we caught and released many keeper-sized (22 inches) fish while fishing within 3 to 4 miles of these artificial reefs. Targeting these areas saves fuel and allows for more fishing time. The 10 Fathom Curve outlined on most charts serves as a highway for many of the migratory species, and at this time of year it also harbors most species of the bottom fish that we seek.

Tip: If it's too windy to venture offshore and must get a "fishing fix," sheepshead gather in numbers at nearly every bridge and dock near the passes that enter the gulf. They provide an excellent fight on light tackle as well as being great table fare.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

Captains corner: Bait arrives, bringing our favorite predators 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Barts Mr Peabody the likely favorite in Derby Lane's T.L. Weaver finale

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick and Rhonda Bartley have a date Saturday night. It may turn into a date with destiny.

  2. Rays series preview: Who are the Mariners?

    Blogs

    The Rays are back home again, duking it out with another club in the American League Wild Card chase — the Mariners, who have a slight advantage over Tampa Bay. Here's the information you need to know about Seattle before the action kicks off.

    Record: 61-61, third in AL West

    Starter Erasmo Ramirez will face the Rays after they traded him to the Mariners in July.
  3. Florida Gators' Malik Zaire: 'This is everything to me'

    Blogs

    GAINESVILLE — We're two weeks and one day away from the Florida Gators' Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan, and the quarterback position remains unresolved.

    "This is everything to me..." said Malik Zaire, the grad transfer from Notre Dame. "I have everything to prove, everything to lose."
  4. 1997 USF Bulls: Jay Mize, a 'relentless, fearless' safety and entrepreneur

    College

    USF football alumnus Jay Mize, 39, poses for a portrait at Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery located at 1611 W Swann Avenue in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Mize, a member of the first USF football team, has evolved into an immensely successful businessman and entrepreneur and he owns the Irish 31 pubs.
  5. Revisiting the inaugural 1997 USF Bulls football roster

    College

    The 1997 USF football team. (University of South Florida, USF Bulls)