What's hot: Offshore fishing has become as hot as the weather. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita and barracuda are crashing into schools of baitfish gathering on all of the midwater artificial reefs and wrecks. The shipping channel from Markers 9 and 10 all the way out to the Whistler have surpassed artificial reefs in the past two weeks as far as size of the fish. Spanish mackerel from 3-5 pounds have been common along with several kingfish in the mid 20-pound class. Large barracuda lurk, waiting to attack any easy prey such as a hooked mackerel or kingfish.
Tip: Troll spoons or plugs near the buoys behind planers to locate which are holding fish. Sabiki up some bait, which are sure to be present, and enjoy some light tackle, slow trolling of live bait, nose-hooked with a stinger rig. Red snapper season has opened, causing anglers to run offshore right past the great gag and red grouper fishing in 50- to 70-foot depths. Divers report a 10- to 12-degree thermocline in those depths, making the bottom temperature an ideal 76-78, keeping the grouper active.
Tip: Stinger rigged flatlines with a frozen sardine have been producing more large kingfish than flatlines baited with a live sardine or hardtail.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at [email protected]m or (727) 397-8815.