Fall is here: Unseasonably warm weather has not stopped the fall migration. The first push of kingfish arrived a few days ago, ravaging everything. They were scattered at depths of 20 to 80 feet, with some real bruisers in the mix. It's hard to pinpoint all the action for part-time anglers in search of smokers, since their location changes daily. This is normal for the first push of kings migrating south. In another week or two, we'll be inundated with the big macks.
Cousins to the king: Spanish mackerel have invaded the Suncoast with a fury. They are easy to spot since thousands of the feisty macks can be seen jumping out of the water. Small baits are what most fish are interested in, so be sure to fill the live wells. Large schools of 2-inch scaled sardines can be easily cast-netted on the edges of the bay grass flats. For artificial lure gurus, try a No. 00 spoon or tiny white bucktail jigs.
Tarpon holding: A few tarpon refuse to leave the beaches until all the tiny whitebait schools have been gobbled up. Look for the rolling tarpon, then monitor your sonar for schooled baitfish — that's where the most bites occur. Also, search for giant mud boils. Large tarpon gulping mouthfuls of frantic bait equals coffee-colored water from the silt on the bottom. It's quite a sight watching this feeding frenzy of mighty silver kings.
Brown bombers: Cobia also have infiltrated many wrecks and structures inshore and offshore. Many anglers have been fortunate to meet up with schools of up to 40 fish. Leave the first cobia on the hook and in the water to keep the bite going.
Fall grouper: Even a few gags have pushed their way inshore. Action is not outstanding, but it's just a matter of one cool front before it increases.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at [email protected].com, jawstoo.com or (727) 595-3276.