Normally in fall and winter, the fishing is very good after a front pushes through and the seas calm. Since Hurricane Ida passed, fishing has been awesome for most species. Large, ravenous Spanish mackerel are thick on the mid-water artificial reefs (South County, Indian Shores and Rube Alyn). Usually anchoring and chumming with live bait is very successful, but for the past week, trolling with small- and medium-sized spoons at 6 knots has been the winning method. Mixed in with the mackerel are a few schoolie kingfish at 8-15 pounds.
Tip: The structure on these three reefs is in a quarter-mile square around the marker buoys. At times, bait and fish congregate on only one or two pieces. Mark each on a GPS. Rube Alyn and Indian Shores were originally 1 mile long, and a lot of structure exists outside the quarter-mile perimeter of the new reef boundaries. Offshore gag grouper have made their fall migration to 20- to 50-foot depths, and competition for food to build up winter reserves is fierce. Sometimes gags follow a hooked fish almost to the surface. Have a spinning rod ready with a sardine to pitch to these fish. Deploying two flat lines, one with a dead sardine and one with a live sardine or threadfin, will cover the water column and produce action from benthic and pelagic fish.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.