June 1 marks the closing of fishing for amberjack and gray triggerfish in the gulf. The closures extend through July 31. June 1 also is the opening of gag grouper and red snapper season. Gag grouper is open through Dec. 31 with a 24-inch minimum size limit and a limit of two per person. Red snapper is open for private recreational anglers on June 1-9 with a 16-inch minimum size and a bag limit of two per angler. These openings will make available more species of bottom fish to target. Don't forget about the great trolling in our area that doesn't require the long run offshore to target some of the benthic fish. Spanish mackerel have arrived in large numbers and can be found as close in as 100 yards off the beach to 20 miles offshore. Using either live bait caught on-site with a sabiki rig or trolling small spoons and plugs can provide nonstop action. Barracuda can be found on the nearshore artificial reefs such as St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach and midwater reefs. Kingfish season has not ended. Slow trolling live baits or large deep-diving plugs over the mitigation piles that are scattered over the Gulf Stream natural gas pipeline will yield large kingfish, catch-and-release amberjack, barracuda and the occasional blackfin tuna.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.