Last week: Strong winds prevented us from venturing as far offshore as we would like but did not prevent us from great catches once we changed the plan.
What's hot: Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bluefish and ladyfish are all on Pinellas County mitigation reefs, within 100 yards of shore and stretching from Sand Key south to just north of the Dubai (formerly Redington Long Pier). They were placed to mitigate the damage to some hard-bottom areas by beach renourishment projects. Most of them are in 12-15 feet of water and extend 5-7 feet off the bottom. They consist of concrete bridge pilings, culvert and light poles covered with dense marine growth, which can be attributed to the sunlight penetrating the water in these shallow depths. Baitfish and their attendant predators concentrate on these sites.
Tactics: For hardware trollers, the standby No. 1 planer followed by a No. 1 spoon is a great combination to start. Shallow diving plugs can entice the grouper that inhabit these reefs. Anchoring, putting out a chum bag supplemented by some cut pieces of sardines and fishing with live whitebait often produce nonstop action when using light tackle, No. 30 test leader and long-shanked hooks. If too many cutoffs occur, a short piece of wire may be used for a leader.
Tip: Because of the structure of these reefs, it is easy to lose an anchor. Keep a separate small grapnel anchor, chain and rode to prevent losing your main anchor.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.