Daily fishing report

Published March 29, 2006

On the days that we were able to venture offshore last week, bottom fishing was surprisingly good at all depths. Any day now the kingfish and Spanish mackerel will show up, prompting us to try trolling spoons and plugs at the South County artificial reef. The depth finder showed schools of bait on the Tug Orange and the barges to the west of it. We did not get a single strike after 20 minutes and headed west to the 50-foot depth.

Natural limestone ledges produced almost non-stop action from white grunts, triggerfish, and undersized gag and red grouper. This area had produced only marginal results since last year's destructive Red Tide but appears to be quickly returning to normal.

Many of the gag grouper were within an inch of being keepers. All of the triggerfish were caught using spinning tackle and 1/0 and 2/0 live bait hooks with squid strips. Triggerfish are underrated because they are often caught incidentally as anglers seek grouper with 40- to 50-pound test tackle. Targeting them with 20-pound or even 10-pound test makes for plenty of action.

Moving west to depths of 70-80 feet produced the best bottom fishing. Gag grouper, quality sized mangrove snapper, more triggerfish and white grunts rounded out the catch. Flatlines used in bottom fishing failed to produce the long awaited first kingfish strike of the season; so did trolling on the 10 Fathom wreck. Hopefully the recent cold front will be the last of the year and water temperatures will rise and bring in the baitfish and larger predators that follow.

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