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CAPTAIN'S CORNER

What's hot: Traditionally kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and barracuda, the mainstays of our spring trolling season, show up around the middle of March. This year the action kicked off a month later and our waters are teeming with those species. Spanish mackerel are thick along beaches, especially near the mouths of any Gulf of Mexico inlet on an outgoing tide. To catch them, troll small gold or silver spoons with trolling sinkers or planers, anchor and fly-line live whitebaits, or run to where they crash into schools of baitfish, then cast small, hard-bodied plugs to them. Kingfish are also near beaches, but the smaller, better eating schoolies (8 to 12 pounds) are more abundant near any artificial reef, wreck or the shipping channel. Spoons and plugs are very effective, but this year slow trolling stinger rigged live baits has produced better catches. Spanish sardines caught with a sabiki rig and deployed on site have been the bait of choice over any other live bait.

Barracuda update: Barracuda have been cruising the surface near every large piece of structure for several weeks and have been hesitant to strike. This will change any day and they will provide excellent catch and release action for the rest of the summer.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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