What's hot: The fall kingfish season continues to provide outstanding action up and down the coast. Spanish mackerel are plentiful close to the beaches, and nearshore grouper fishing is also very good. Large amberjacks are migrating closer to the coast, setting up their winter residence in shipwrecks, springs and large breaks in depths as shallow as 85 feet.
Fishing tactics: There is no reason to run way offshore this time of year. Carry heavy grouper, bait and kingfish rods to round out your tackle. Anchor you boat over a nearshore hard bottom area or rock pile and deploy a chum bag. The chum will attract kingfish and Spanish mackerel. Fish two flat lines off the transom of your boat using biodegradable balloons for floats. Fish for grouper using dead sardines and squid. A minimum of 60-pound test tackle is needed, equipped with locked-down drags. We have repeatedly caught gags up 12 pounds, grunts and sea bass while grouper fishing in 22 to 35 feet of water.
Bait: Live bait is required for any good day of fishing. Get up before sunrise and throw cast nets in and around bridges to get some. During daylight start a chum slick over the flats and get baits with your net. Pinfish traps work well. Use two traps to get all the pinfish and small pigfish you want. Put the traps out the day before you fish, and the next morning you should have live bait. We always stop by reefs and gold-hook some offshore baits to round out our live well.
Larry "Huffy'' Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.