What's hot: Fishing for kingfish and Spanish mackerel has been hit or miss the past week. On the days it has been hot, we've fished the shipping channel markers, Treasure Island artificial reef, and hard bottom areas northwest of the St. Pete Beach artificial reef — with almost non-stop action on live and artificial baits. In the same areas one day later, it was quickly evident that the fish moved on, and after a reasonable length of time without a strike we went bottom fishing. Bottom fishing has stayed consistent in 50- to 80-foot depths with red and gag grouper, white grunts, scamp and porgies providing most of the action. Gag grouper are a game fish until July 1, when the season opens, and are catch, photo and release. There have been no complaints when anglers release these great battlers, especially when they know another angler can enjoy the same fight.
Tip: Deploy a stinger rigged flatline on every bottom stop because the activity of the bottom fish being brought up will entice pelagic predators to partake in the easy meal provided by the stunned smaller reef fish being put back and the steady chum stream caused by the reef fish expelling their stomach contents and lost baits.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.