We ventured offshore after being forced to stay in port because of the cold front and strong winds. Water temperature registered 60 degrees as we left John's Pass, about 8 degrees lower than before the front. Normally we put away the trolling gear shortly after Thanksgiving and take it back out around St. Patrick's Day. This year has been unusual in that we were targeting kingfish every day with great success. With the sudden drop in water temperature, we were sure they had left for warmer climates. Not the case. Trolling Nos. 1 and 2 planers with large blue or gold spoons produced kings just south of the shipping channel on the natural gas pipeline. Many of them were undersized and had to be released, but there were enough legal fish along with catch-and-release bonita. We might have kingfish here all winter until the real season begins in mid March. We also went offshore to 95-foot depths to bottom fish but had dismal grouper results. Downsizing tackle to 20-pound spinning class and No. 2 hook snapper rigs produced a box of vermillion, lane, sea bass, white grunts and porgies.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.