Now that school's out, parents and grandparents are turning their attention to providing children with different activities. Many think of offshore fishing as requiring a long, boring run to and back from deep waters in search of large fish. With kids on board, this type of trip is not necessary because we have great opportunities to catch a variety of fish within 10 miles from shore. Spanish mackerel can be found near many of the passes entering the gulf and on the mitigation reefs that stretch from Clearwater to Indian Shores as close as 100 yards from shore. They can also be found on the nearshore artificial reefs that are 5-7 miles offshore. Another viable alternative or addition to mackerel is shark fishing. During summer months, nearly any place that harbors mackerel will have a shark population that preys on them. These sharks are not the "monsters" we see in the movies and on TV, but they range from 20-50 pounds and provide a memorable catch and release for youngsters. The midwinter artificial reefs now harbor a population of barracuda, amberjack, mackerel and bonita. These fish can be handled by younger anglers with light tackle. A wide variety of bottom fish such as white grunts, grouper, porgies, triggerfish and mangrove snapper can be found within a few miles of the reefs and often provide nonstop action for youngsters. Taking kids fishing forges a bond between everyone on board that's priceless.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.