What's hot: In a normal year, kingfish are just a memory of spring and we look forward to October when they begin migrating south. This summer has not been normal, because on every trip we have been able to target them by trolling or deploying a flatline while bottom fishing at 60 feet and deeper. In kingfish season, the majority of fish caught are "schoolies" of 6-12 pounds. This summer, they are much larger, 20-30 pounds, and it has been unusual to catch one below the 24-inch minimum fork length. The kingfish have remained at most of their usual seasonal spots such as the western end of the Egmont Channel, offshore wrecks and midwater artificial reefs. The mitigation rock piles on the natural gas pipeline are holding quantities of bait that keep kingfish near.
More options: Spanish mackerel have been abundant on nearshore artificial reefs such as St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. Pay attention to the size of the baitfish gathered on the structure. Recently the baitfish have been small, leading to the use of 00- and 0-sized spoons. The mackerel have been hesitant to strike anything larger.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.