Trolling action: Kingfish remain for the duration of the summer. Twenty-pounders have been landed on a regular basis near artificial reefs in 40 and 60 feet of water. A combination of Spanish mackerel, bonito (Little Tunny), barracuda and smokers can amount to an outstanding day of summer slow-trolling. Live threadfin herring employed deep, with the help of downriggers, works best.
Better action: Fishing picks up if you travel deeper. Sixty feet of water has numerous 18- to 20-inchers with an occasional keeper thrown in. If weather allows, the journey to 80-plus feet gets even better. Keeper-sized red grouper have started to infiltrate the limestone bottom areas, allowing anglers a few more fish. Most reds have been averaging about 5 to 8 pounds, with an occasional fire truck (12-pounder) mixed in. Working the bait stacks along the bottom is your best bet.
Snapper action: Mangrove snapper are fattening up for their late summer spawn. All depths are holding descent numbers; the deeper the water, the bigger the fish. Last week, clients reeled in dozens of mangos in the 4- to 8-pound range near structures 40 miles from shore. Boaters not wanting to travel so far can target the artificial reefs 3 to 5 miles from shore. Anglers have been free-lining whitebaits (scaled sardines) for Spanish mackerel while at the same time bottom fishing for the tasty mangos. Anchoring directly over the concrete structures with small intervals of chumming is the ticket for success.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at [email protected], jawstoo.com or (727) 439-2628.