Stone crab season opened Wednesday, and the gulf was dotted with brightly colored buoys attached to baited traps on the bottom. The beginning of crab season usually coincides with the beginning of kingfish season, and many anglers have witnessed their trophy smoker kingfish being lost when they swam to the barnacled trap rope and cut the line. A sharp eye must be kept, especially early morning and late afternoon, to keep from running your boat over the line and entangling it in the propeller.
With GPS, crabbers no longer guess where to place the traps, putting them mostly on limestone bottom. The baited traps serve as chum blocks attracting not only crabs but many types of baitfish on which larger predators feed.
Tactic: A spread of a No. 3 planer with a large gold plug, a No. 2 planer with a spoon and a flat line with a small trolling lead ahead of a No. 1 spoon led to several successful trips resulting in catches of gag grouper, kingfish and Spanish mackerel by trolling for several miles along lines of crab buoys. Circle back and make several passes each time a strike occurs.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.comor (727) 397-8815.