What's hot: Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita, and barracuda are the top targets for offshore trollers using live and artificial baits. This season has been different because of the late arrival of baitfish and their predators. Normally, we begin to see Spanish mackerel and kingfish off our coast in mid March and the migration peaks in mid April. Spanish mackerel remain throughout the summer with their larger cousins leaving by mid May. Barracuda normally can be seen on wrecks and artificial reefs in early April and begin feeding in earnest later in the month. But this year, we're seeing kingfish of all sizes lately. Spanish mackerel fishing has been best within a mile of the beaches, especially near passes on an outgoing tide.
Tips: Look for where the dirty bay water meets the cleaner gulf water, and troll live bait or spoons just inside the dirty water. This seems contrary to the thought that bait is more visible in cleaner water, but we consistently get more strikes by staying just out of the clear water. The first three sets of markers coming from the sea in the shipping channel have been holding kingfish and bait daily. On some days, the fish are finicky and refuse everything but a Spanish sardine. On other days, they will strike only a blue runner. Start by offering both.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.