What's hot: Recent cold fronts have made fishing for several species red hot. Both red and gag grouper have begun their heavy feeding activity in anticipation of a long winter, with a lack of baitfish that will have migrated from our area seeking warmer water. Frozen squid and Spanish sardines are effective in getting the feeding activity started. Once that occurs, use a variety of live baits to trigger a strike from the larger fish that will be drawn in by the commotion. Pinfish, hardtails and squirrelfish are effective, but right now a small blue runner with part of its tail removed to slow it down seems to be working the best. Long runs are not necessary as the best activity is in 40-60 foot depths.
Tips: Kingfishing has been disappointing, with small scattered schools being encountered. Most kings that we have been catching have been on stinger-rigged flatlines deployed with a frozen sardine while bottom fishing. Spanish mackerel and barracuda fishing have filled the gap caused by the lack of kings. The larger mackerel are being caught within a mile of shore near the passes by using small spoons trolled behind No. 1 planers or freelined white bait or shrimp. The barracudas are feeding aggressively on slow-trolled blue runners on all of the artificial reefs.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.