What's hot: Strong easterly winds made conditions tolerable close to shore in the gulf, but farther offshore, conditions were miserable and unsafe. Westerly winds cause waves to build offshore and as they head to shore, they eventually have no place to go and cause rough seas. Easterly winds have the opposite effect and produce calm conditions near the shore with waves increasing as one ventures farther out. These recent easterly winds have provided great fishing.
Baitfish have become abundant within 2 miles of shore and have attracted and kept many of the larger predators within range. Spanish mackerel can be caught either by trolling small spoons, plugs or streamers (with or without a No. 1 planer). Live-bait anglers can net bait inshore, anchor over hard bottom and chum the mackerel into a frenzy on most days.
Because of the clear water, using a light monofilament leader has become a necessity. At times a wire leader will result in few strikes.
Tips: Bonito are abundant and can be seen churning the water into a white froth. Although not considered good table fare, they provide drag-screaming, rod-bending action. At times bonito can become a nuisance when targeting other pelagics, but when targeting them for sport they prove difficult to catch. We have found that they are sensitive to bait size. A small saltwater streamer fly with a strong hook is often what it takes to "match the hatch." Kingfish are still here feeding on the mackerel. And for anglers with the patience to slow-troll large live baits, trophy catches are being made.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.