What's hot: The days before this week's cold front were outstanding for bottom fisherman and those who troll. Red grouper, white grunts, sea bass and mangrove provided great table fare while gag grouper provided catch-and-release excitement. The best activity was in 50-70 feet. Now that the water has somewhat warmed up, live bait — pinfish, pigfish and small blue runners — has been key to capturing larger grouper.
What else: Small schools of kingfish have been scattered from the shipping channel to north of Clearwater. Spanish sardines and cigar minnows have been hard to find, and spoons and plugs have produced the best catches. Although the migration during spring is south to north, the best catches have been reported west of Clearwater Pass. With the longer days, the sun heats up the water faster. As soon as it hits the magical 72 degrees, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and barracuda will be found on artificial reefs willing to strike natural and artificial baits.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.