The Tampa Bay Times
Dave Zalewski 460-9893
Our artificial reefs are far enough offshore to not be effected by the red tide outbreaks and are a great place to start your day. We primarily fish them for pelagic fish such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita and barracuda which are always swimming and suspended in the water column. The reason for this is that the benthic fish which includes grouper and snapper reside near the bottom either close to or in the structure which makes them difficult to catch because of their ability to quickly seek refuge in the cracks and crevices 0nce hooked resulting in cut leaders and lost fish.
The pelagics can be targeted in several ways: trolling hardware such as spoons and plugs either by themselves or by the use of planers, slow trolling live baits hooked through the nose either with or without a stinger hook depending on the size of the baitfish and anchoring up and chumming with live baits, pieces of frozen bait along with a chum bag.
Each of the above methods will work if the baits or lures are presented over the structure that is present on each reef. It is best to liken them to small desert areas containing several oases. The predators orient to the structure because the baitfish are seeking shelter on them. The near shore reefs such as Madeira Beach consist of rectangles 2000 feet long and about 300 feet wide running north and south. The published GPS number for these reefs are the center, some structure will be there, but the majority will be found elsewhere in the rectangle.