The forecast calls for warmer weather, so conditions should return to normal for this time of year.
Bait schools are around the reefs, channel markers and most inshore bridges. Offshore, nearshore and inshore fishing is outstanding. Kingfish and Spanish mackerel are busting bait all along our coast. Cobia are feeding on free-lined live bait at most reefs, the channel markers and crab-pot buoys.
Amberjack have moved inshore and can be found as shallow as 80 feet. Barracuda are aggressively feeding along our coast on all reefs, shipwrecks and channel markers. Grouper and mangrove snapper are in 90 feet to 20 feet of water.
The biggest challenge is deciding what to fish for. I recommend targeting nearshore gag grouper in 22 feet of water over rock piles. We have caught gags up to 28 inches. Many of our nearshore grouper have been found while trolling live baits for kingfish on downriggers.
Anchor over a known hard-bottom area while grouper fishing. Deploy flat lines with live baits and chum bags to attract kingfish and Spanish mackerel off the transom of your boat. The chum will bring the Spanish mackerel to the back of the boat. Use light tackle with live bait — 15- to 20-pound test line — with long-shank hooks.
Offshore fishing in 90 feet and deeper is producing red and gag grouper. Amberjack up to 50 pounds have set up on the Pipeline, as well as most springs and shipwrecks. Live blue runners are the best bait. Remember, the bigger the bait, the bigger the 'jack. This time of year, plan on the possibility of also catching blackfin tuna. Strong tides and chunking attract them. A live Spanish sardine is the top live bait for tuna.
Inshore, all of the piers are producing Spanish mackerel and kingfish. Redfish are feeding at night near docks with lights. The John's Pass Bridge is producing snook, redfish and trout on the outgoing tide and around the bridge lights.
Guide Craig Lahr reports the inshore action should improve with the new moon and warming of the water. He says to check potholes for redfish during low tide.
Larry Hoffman charters out of Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396 or e-mail him at huffyl@tampa bay.rr.com.