Spanish mackerel have been good for those seeking it in Tampa Bay and poor for those of us who fish in the gulf. Bonita are available in good numbers where quantities of bait can be found. Barracudas have finally shown up at the markers along the shipping channel and on most of the mid-water artificial reefs. We have been catching most of our kingfish by slow trolling live sardines and hardtails caught on the site where we are fishing. "Matching the hatch" has been critical. On many days, bait caught inshore and brought out with us has failed to produce and we must use sabiki bait from around whatever structure we are near. A good game plan if targeting the shipping channel is to start at Markers 7 and 8, and work west until markers holding bait are found. Once bait is found, kingfish should be there also. We deploy two stinger-rigged flatlines when bottom fishing. One is baited with a frozen sardine and allowed to sink in the current. The other is baited with bait caught on a sabiki no matter what depth we are fishing. In deeper water, using a 4-ounce sinker helps to keep the sabikis stretched out and free of tangles.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.