What's hot: If you haven't heard, king mackerel are here — well ahead of schedule. The past few weeks, we have found a large number of Spanish mackerel along the beaches and on the 6-mile county reef system. Mixed in with the Spanish mackerel have been a few kingfish. The best time for mackerel is the moment the sun strikes the water's surface until about 10 a.m. Watch for diving sea birds and the mackerel jumping as they chase baits. If trolling, do so close to but not through the school.
Also hot: We have found large sharks tagging along in the mix of mackerel. There are times when you can see sharks fining just below the surface; near where the mackerel ball up a pile of bait. Last week, we hooked up to a hammerhead of about 9 feet. Several lemon and blacktip sharks also were caught and released.
Tip: After the morning mackerel frenzy dies down, move offshore for a few grouper. Bottom fishing for gag grouper seems best in 35-50 feet. We have caught a few keeper-sized red grouper in the same depths, but our target has been gags while the season is still open. King mackerel fishing will get much better in the coming weeks. Cooler temperatures and days growing shorter will stimulate them to migrate south. With all the baitfish we have in the area, we should have a great fall season.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarryBlue.com.