Along with the great trolling for Spanish mackerel, kingfish, barracuda and bonita, another great target has arrived in our waters. On recent trips we encountered schools of giant bull redfish crashing into tightly compacted bait balls within 3 miles of the gulf shoreline. Frigate birds are the best indicator that these fast-moving fish might be in the area. One or two of them do not warrant taking the time to investigate, but if five or more can be seen circling, or more importantly picking remnants of baitfish from the surface, it's worth the effort. Being prepared with a large plug on at least 20-pound tackle is imperative because when these fish are in a feeding frenzy, they strike almost anything. Casting or trolling around the perimeter of the school will produce a savage strike with a memorable battle. Light drag is necessary to prevent a break off on the initial run because of the power of these beasts, which might reach 40 pounds. This is all catch, photo and release fishing because redfish have a maximum slot limit of 27 inches in state waters and are closed in federal waters (more than 9 miles offshore). Grouper fishing remains spotty in most depths, with 60 feet being the best depth to have success.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.