What's hot: In the past, as soon as the majority of kingfish left our area, we would put away our trolling tackle and concentrate on bottom fishing in 70- to 90-foot depths for red and gag grouper, white grunts, mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper. The kingfish have left, but there are plenty of species to target trolling. Gag grouper trolling in 30- to 40-foot hard bottom areas has been exceptional.
Tip: For years the majority of trolling for gags has been along the shipping channel going into Tampa. The channel averages about 40 feet deep. Hard-bottom rocky areas are accessible to the average boater without a long run offshore. A broken-backed gold lure trolled behind a No. 3 planer, the large lipped stretch plugs in gold or blue, produce the best. Barracuda have been schooling on artificial reefs and wrecks for several weeks. Slow troll any large bait such as live blue runners or mackerel caught on site and deployed with a stinger rig. Spanish mackerel action has been slow offshore; the best action has been right on the beach within 100 yards.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.