For years I would switch from winter bottom fishing to trolling and live baiting for Spanish mackerel and kingfish when the water temperature rose to 68 degrees. I am beginning to believe that length of days, not the temperature, triggers the northward migration of pelagics. Though the water has not reached the proper temperature, baitfish and their predators have arrived.
Spanish mackerel and scattered kingfish can be found on and near artificial reefs from Manatee to Pasco counties. Saturday we stopped at the Treasure Island reef on the way to go bottom fishing in 60 feet of water. The St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach artificial reefs no longer are permitted sites and will not have marker buoys. The permitted areas were 2,000 feet north to south and 300 feet wide. Much of the structure was along the center line, but satellite structure often was built on the perimeter.
Trolling No. 1 and 2 planers with No. 1 spoons down the center line did not produce action, but diving birds indicated a large pile of concrete culvert in the southwest corner could be the hot spot. Trolling over the structure produced a large Spanish. Eight passes produced 12 mackerel and one drag-pulling run that probably was a bonita but could have been our first kingfish of the year.
_ Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2aol.com.