What's hot: After last week's severe cold front, the fishing became as great as the weather. Spanish mackerel and their larger cousins, kingfish, made a strong showing up and down the Suncoast. The key is to determine if baitfish are present, then concentrate efforts near their schools. Baitfish can often be seen on the surface. On many days, the schools of bait stay below the surface and must be found by watching diving birds or with a fish finder. Bait will appear on a depth sounder as a mound on the bottom or as a mass suspended in the water column.
Tactics: Stop over the bait and deploy a sabiki rig to determine what size the baitfish are, then use the proper-sized spoon or plug if you're using hardware. If the decision is to slow-troll live bait, nothing beats bait caught onsite. Many times the bait seen on the machine will be too small, so hardware must be used. Cobia have been spotted near many buoys along the shipping channel, and it is worthwhile to check each one as you pass. At times, cobia will strike anything. When they are hesitant to strike, use a sabiki and fresh live bait near the buoy.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.