Persistent east winds can make offshore fishing a challenge. A strong east wind might create an uncomfortable sea farther offshore; closer to shore the wind is buffeted by buildings along the beach towns. When the wind blows consistently in that direction, the fish follow it right up to the beach. Staying within a mile or two allows for more favorable fishing conditions. Calm water keeps baitfish closer to shore, closer to the surface, and easier to find. Find the bait — find the fish. Stone crab season has begun and perhaps you've noticed the myriad of brightly colored buoys just offshore. Well, those marker buoys are for the stone crab traps below. These traps are loaded with different baits used to attract the crabs. The fresh bait in the traps might inadvertently create a chum slick, which for anglers has an unintended benefit; they attract baitfish that in turn attracts bigger fish, namely king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia and sharks. Carefully negotiate around these markers to find all of these fish. Stay well clear of the traps to avoid snagging your lines on them, thereby losing your prized catch. Several anglers have been complaining that while they are fishing for king mackerel, sharks have been harassing their baits. Some anglers actually like catching sharks, others not so much. Shark fishing has been about as good as it gets. There are a good number of blacktip spinner sharks in the area; these are some of the best eating of the species. As a personal rule, I release all of the females, keeping only the males.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.