After last week’s winds caused five straight days of charter cancellations, it was a relief to head offshore. Water temperatures were right, hovering around 71 Sunday, but water clarity was not. Stops on a nearshore artificial reef and a midwater one produced only two token mackerel. Water clarity cleared up dramatically in 60 feet, and the bottom fish co-operated well with nonstop action from red grouper, white grunts, triggerfish (which are catch and release because of the season closure until Jan. 1), porgies and yellowtail snapper, with a few red snapper mixed in (also catch and release until June 1.) Two small hook (2/0) rigs with the sinker on the bottom produced some of all species and most of the smaller reef species. Water clarity was probably still not the best on the bottom, so we chose to fish with frozen squid and sardines because reef fish in the gulf feed not only by sight but also by smell. Chumming with small slivers of sardine and squid helped get the activity started. Tuesday was started by trolling small spoons behind No. 1 planers about a mile offshore north of Blind Pass because the water had began to clear. Spanish mackerel were present with enough strikes to keep it interesting.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.