What's hot: Though red grouper season will open Sunday, it will be hard to stop fishing for Spanish mackerel and kingfish. We are having one of the best spring kingfish runs in recent years. On a recent trip, we started trolling at the Treasure Island artificial reef with a spread of 31 and 2 planers followed by large and small spoons along with a locally manufactured hard-bodied bait normally used for inshore fishing on a flat line on the surface. With clean water, planer leaders were downsized to 40-pound test and lengthened to 25 feet. Action began as soon as lines were deployed with bait and fish hanging close to high profile structures.
South County reef: Many kingfish were just under the 24-inch minimum fork length limit, so the next stop was the South County reef, seeking larger fish. Kingfish and large Spanish mackerel were caught on almost every pass over the three barges and the tug "Orange" that were sunk to provide the high profile structure that attracts baitfish and predators.
Offshore action: The last stop was offshore in 70 feet for catch-and-release grouper action along with light tackle white grunt fishing. The stinger rigged flatline with a dead sardine produced several of the largest kingfish. Several kingfish, attracted by the commotion of the bottom fishing, were caught by casting a hard-bodied bait and retrieving it with a twitch bait action to simulate a wounded baitfish.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.