They are here! Spanish mackerel and kingfish have shown up in the numbers expected of them at this time of year. All we have to hope for is weather that will allow us to get offshore. In most years the hot spots have been the artificial reefs, shipwrecks and channel markers along the Tampa shipping channel. This year has been an exception. On our recent trips we’ve started out by trolling Nos. 1 and 2 planers with small and large spoons over the high-profile structure that can be found on any of the reefs. This has produced a few fish but not what we hoped. Moving to the hard-bottom areas near each reef that we targeted resulted in some banner catches of kingfish and large mackerel. All it took was to see one or two birds diving into the water to reveal where the bait and their predators were lurking. Careful attention to the sonar reveals where the school of bait is, and the push of the GPS MOB (man overboard button) will allow you to return to the exact spot. Trolling hardware at 5.5 to 6 knots allows you to cover more territory in search of fish. There are days that hardware does not produce. That’s when it’s worthwhile to sabiki some baits on site and slow troll or drift with them in the area where the bait is present.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.