What's hot: Name a fish offshore and it's hot. Spanish mackerel fishing near any pass that empties into the gulf during an outgoing tide is as good as it gets. Troll small spoons, anchor over hard bottom areas within 2 miles of shore and chum with baits on site (or follow diving birds and cast small hard baits) for constant action.
Hot spots: Though there are large solitary kingfish in the same areas mackerel are targeted, more numerous schools of kingfish at 8-25 pounds are devouring baits on mid water artificial reefs such as South County, Indian Shores and Rube Allyn. It is not necessary to troll spoons and plugs to cover water. Once schools of Spanish sardines, threadfins and blue runners are located, a sabiki rig will provide as much fresh bait as needed. The same is true for the shipping channel. All markers are holding baitfish and their predators; as soon as the first bait is jiggled up, put it out on a stinger rig.
Both gag and red grouper are active at 60-foot depths. Gags are closed but red grouper is open and more will be found on rocky bottom than ledges. Recently we landed a blackfin tuna and observed another boat catch and release a sailfish near a wreck south of the channel in 60 feet of water.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.