What's hot: Tropical Storm Isaac brought offshore fishing to a halt with its high winds and waves. Until then, most of our trips that were six hours or longer started with trolling; at times we switched to bottom fishing. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita and barracuda were the trolling targets and on many days provided consistent action. In the past weeks trolling action has been great on all the near shore and mid-water artificial reefs. When that has slowed, we have turned to the shipping channel going into Tampa Bay. Starting at Markers 9 and 10 and working west toward the Whistler (the farthest marker), we have found fish at every set of markers by trolling No. 1 or No. 2 planers with small and medium gold spoons. We have tried different colors; gold has brought the best results.
Tip: When trolling the markers, determine which hold the most bait by watching the bottom finder. When the bite slows, try the other one of the pair; often the bait will spook and seek shelter there. Sargassum weed has been a problem, fouling lines, planers and spoons. Switch to live bait caught at the markers by a sabiki rig and slow troll them by bumping the motor in and out of gear or drifting. Keep one bait on the surface and one or two deeper by using a small trolling lead, 10 feet of leader, a short trace of wire and a long, shanked 2/0 thin wire hook. If baits are larger, use a stinger rig if cutoffs occur.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.