What's hot: Before the high winds, rain and fog kept us in port for a week, we experienced great action from Spanish mackerel, bonita and scattered kingfish schools. The hard-bottom areas between Blind Pass and the Don Cesar produced Spanish mackerel daily. We trolled gold and silver spoons behind a No. 1 planer or small-trolling sinker. The key was trolling near the stone crab trap buoys and watching the fish-finder to see which ones held bait and predators. Running figure eights around the markers produced multiple hookups.
Tips: Markers 9 and 10 produced well. It was a short run from there to the Manatee County 7 Mile Reef, where we encountered Spanish mackerel and their larger cousins, kingfish. The kings ranged from legal (24 inches fork length) to 32 inches. Trolling west up the shipping channel was disappointing until we reached Markers 3 and 4 and 1 and 2. Sabiki rigs produced Spanish sardines, hardtails and pinfish. Slow-trolling live sardines netted us kingfish and bonita, while pinfish used in 60 feet northwest of the Whistler netted gag grouper for great photos (and releases).
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.