The Gulf of Mexico near Tampa Bay is considered shallow compared to many areas of the world where the bottom drops dramatically just a few miles from shore. Our waters let sunlight penetrate to the bottom, which promotes vegetative and reef growth on any type of structure such as natural limestone reefs, artificial reefs and wrecks that protrude from the bottom. At this time of year we have done both bottom fishing and trolling. Trolling for pelagic fish, those found throughout the water column, is best when targeting higher-profile structures such as wrecks and artificial reefs. Those places tend to harbor larger concentrations of baitfish and their apex predators such as kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and barracuda. Our bottom fishing for grouper and snapper often is conducted close to midwater artificial reefs and wrecks. The reason is even though the artificial reefs were placed on areas of sand bottom to prevent damage to natural reefs, every one was placed adjacent to limestone areas that already had a concentration of benthic fish. The kingfish bite has been as good as it gets the past two weeks. Spanish mackerel have been disappointing. We will target kingfish on artificial reefs, trolling hardware at 6 knots or slow-trolling live bait caught on site as slow as the boat will go in the morning. In the afternoons we'll switch to bottom fishing as long as kingfish remain in our area.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.