What's hot: Despite high water temperatures, fishing offshore both trolling and bottom fishing remains exceptional. Historically late August features slow fishing, but it seems everything arrived late to our area this year. Spanish mackerel and kingfish are normally very active in early April and this year the majority did not show up until late April. Barracuda were almost non-existent until mid May.
Tips: Spanish mackerel, barracuda and bonita are the trolling targets now, and most artificial reefs are almost a sure thing when using live bait or hardware. Live bait caught on site using sabiki rigs are much more effective than bait brought from elsewhere, because matching size and type appears to be critical. We have been pleasantly surprised by the number of kingfish that are still around. There are not enough to specifically target them, but they are a bonus when fishing for other species.
Tackle: Bottom fishing remains strong in 70-90 feet with colorful boxes of fish being brought back by anglers downsizing their tackle to target smaller species. We are using 2 hook 1/0 snapper rigs on baitcasting or spinning tackle and getting a variety of bottom fish that are normally rarely caught on the larger grouper hooks — mangrove snapper, vermillion snapper (beeliners), Lane snapper, white grunts and yellowtail snapper. Gray triggerfish will be caught, and provide a great battle on the light tackle, but must be released until the season reopens Jan. 1.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.