What's hot: Bottom fishing for red and gag grouper, triggerfish, scamp and white grunts and trolling for Spanish mackerel, kingfish, barracuda and bonita remain excellent. Taking a compass heading of about 250 degrees when leaving the John's Pass marker leads to several great spots. Treasure Island artificial is often a first stop to troll for Spanish mackerel and fill the livewell with Spanish sardines, threadfins, scad and pinfish, which are caught with a Sabiki.
Where to go: South County artificial reef, with its tugboats, barges, piles of concrete and triangle area created by the Tampa Shipping Channel entrance marker (Whistler) and Markers 1 and 2, have pelagics. Bottom fishing in 70 feet west of the triangle has been good for red and gag grouper, which must be released. Mangrove snapper are on the ledges with triggerfish and white grunts.
Tips: When the first bait is caught, deploy it on a stinger rig and continue to fish for bait. This lures a larger predator. Tip the two bottom hooks of your Sabiki with a piece of squid tentacle. This attracts pinfish. Target the snapper grunts and triggerfish with small hooked rigs. The commotion also lures larger fish.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.