Water temperatures, season and all the other conditions have been perfect for the fall kingfish run. The only thing missing has been large numbers of schoolie kings. They haven't stopped on their way south for the winter.
Spanish mackerel and gag grouper have filled the void. Trolling for Spanish usually requires clear water, but they have hit No. 1 gold spoons trolled behind No. 1 planers within 100 yards of the beach between John's Pass and Clearwater Pass. Silver spoons seem to lose effectiveness in murkier water.
Gag grouper fishing within 2 miles west and southwest of the Clearwater hard bottom is hot. Stone crabbers have placed traps on rocky areas, and careful attention should be paid to the depth finder to spot hard bottom. In this shallow water, ledges are not of concern because gags are foraging on almost any limestone area. When the water is murky, it often helps to place a piece of squid on the hook with a sardine for scent.
- Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at 727 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2@aol.com
Tampa Bay area teams from divisions other than Division 6 that placed at the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship on Friday and Saturday in Biloxi, Miss.: Desperado, skippered by Bryan Wallace out of Dunedin, finished fifth in the open class with two king mackerel that totaled 107.11 pounds. Also in open class, Kevin Hannon and his Hannon's Cannon finished 33rd with 93.3 pounds. In the 23-and-under class, Comfortably Numb 2 finished 10th with 86.12 pounds with Eric Smith of New Port Richey at the helm.