The Tampa Bay Times
Dave Zalewski 460-9893
Spanish mackerel fishing close to the beach has been disappointing so far this summer season. In past years we would put out #1 planers and spoons before we entered the gulf from Boca Ciega Bay. After many fruitless attempts at fishing near shore, we have abandoned that and are targeting Spanish Mackerel, bonita and barracuda on the mid water artificial reefs. So County, Indian Shores and Rube Alyn artificial reefs are all holding nice size mackerel and each one of them is situated so that one will pass near on the way offshore to bottom fish. The mid water reefs cover a ¼ square mile of area. Each reef will have structure such as barges, bridge rubble, concrete culvert and other solid material scattered throughout that area. The key to successful trolling on them is to maximize the time that ones lines are over the structure. We use 2 gps preloaded with the different structure locations. Once on site 2 different locations, preferably one at the north end of the reef and one at the south end, are selected and we establish a trolling line between the two. Fish can be caught by blind trolling in the area of the reef, but the most success will be achieved by sticking to a plan.
Offshore in the 80 to 90 foot depths on Swiss Cheese hard bottom Lane and vermillion snapper have been our targets of choice. 2 hook dropper rigs baited with squid strips and sardine chunks have produced colorful boxes of these delicious fish. They have small mouths and strong small circle hooks are a must.