What's hot: The summer is turning out to be one of the best in many years. Bottom fishing for white grunts, red and gag grouper, and mangrove snapper has been exceptional, even in water as shallow as 50 feet. Divers routinely report top to bottom visibility in 50 to 60 feet. Mangrove snapper are abundant on almost every ledge, artificial reef and wreck. The key is to chum with small slivers of cut sardine until the fish start feeding then free-line or use minimal weight to place pieces of sardine on a 1/0 circle hook in the area. Spanish mackerel, kingfish and barracuda top the list of trolling fish to target from the shoreline to 120 feet. Spanish mackerel are abundant near every entrance to the gulf when the water remains clear. Recent westerly winds dirtied the water near shore and made it necessary to venture about 6 miles until cleaner water could be found, usually near artificial reefs.
Tip: When downsizing tackle, it is necessary to constantly check line and leader for nicks and abrasions. Lighter line is less forgiving, and the nick you can get away with in 50-pound test is disastrous in 20.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.