Mixed bag: Several species are providing good action on the artificial reef systems. Carrying a variety of baits and tackle can lead to both sport fish and food for the table. Common catches could include Spanish mackerel, barracuda, cobia, snapper, flounder, grunts, sharks, bonito, goliath grouper and late season kingfish.
Pro tip: Fish the entire water column from top to bottom. Free-lined live baits on the surface will draw the attention of mackerel, barracuda and possibly a kingfish. Larger baitfish can equate to larger predators, and a wire leader is recommended. Mid-water depths could find mangrove snapper working their way up a well-presented chum slick. Smaller live baits or slivers of fresh cut bait drifted back in the current will connect with these feisty but tasty fish. Bottom fishing with chunks of frozen squid will draw white grunts and numerous undersized groupers that can keep the youngest anglers busy reeling in fish all day.
Big fish: Work up the food chain. Begin with a sabiki rig to catch bait on site that can then be used to catch mackerel. Continue by sending out a legal-sized mackerel on a stinger rig for a barracuda. The barracuda can then be used as bait for a shark. Or, try catching a bonito and firing half of it down for a huge goliath grouper.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at email@example.com or (727)510-1009.