Kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and barracuda and the various schooling baitfish usually have left the area shortly after Thanksgiving for the warmer, more comfortable Keys and farther south. This year is an exception. We're still catching trolling fish on a daily basis by trolling either spoons and plugs or live baits. South County, Indian Shores, Rube Allyn and Veterans artificial reefs are great places to start. Trolling hardware at 6 knots allows us to cover the area thoroughly by moving from structure to structure. Once fish are located, they can be fished by continuing hardware trolling or switching to live bait sabikied on site and slow-trolled by use of a stinger rig. For those fishing the southern part of Pinellas, the shipping channel is producing from Markers 9 and 10 all the way to the Whistler Buoy, which is the beginning of the channel. On many days the fish are staying deep and the use of a Nos. 2 or 3 planer is necessary to get the spoons into the strike zone. Gag grouper season ends Dec. 31. Red grouper fishing is spotty at best. There are other fish to target. Amberjack season opens Jan. 1. They appear to be in good supply over most of the offshore wrecks. Triggerfish remain closed for all of 2017. White grunts, Lane, vermillion and mangrove snapper are available in good numbers.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.