By LARRY HOFFMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 6, 2000
Spanish mackerel have been the hot ticket this week. We have caught limits of Spanish mackerel trolling small silver spoons around reefs, near-shore wrecks and bait schools. Feeding birds are a dead giveaway for where Spanish mackerel can be caught. The macks have weighed 3 to 4 pounds, and a few people have caught some weighing as much as 6 pounds.
There have been a few reliable reports of early-season kingfish being boated while fishing for Spanish mackerel. Kingfish normally are found in water temperatures between 68 and 78 degrees. They prefer 72-degree water. To target kingfish early in the season I recommend trolling near wrecks and reefs. Good trolling areas will be the Rube Allen, the Betty Rose and the Sheridan. Try using kingfish-type spoons trolled behind No. 2 and No. 3 planers. Kingfish are migrating south in the fall to the their winter sanctuaries.
Grouper fishing has picked up this month, with good catches reported in 40 to 70 feet of water. As the Gulf of Mexico cools, the grouper will move inshore and start filling ledges and hard bottom areas. Start your fishing with frozen sardines and squid, then make the transition to live bait. To maximize your success, time your major moves during slack tide and check the paper for the lunar major and minor feeding schedules. The schedules really do work.
Inshore fishing is hot for just about any species. Snook are working most of our passes on the outgoing tides and at night. Live pinfish or pigfish are good baits. Trout and redfish are schooling along the bays and Intracoastal Waterway. A few pompano have been caught in Pass-a-Grille Pass and Blind Pass. Fiddler crabs and small white and yellow jigs have been producing pompano up to 2 pounds.
Dave McCammon from the Redington Beach Long Pier reports excellent catches of flounder up to 20 inches and lots of redfish and black drum. This week the pier anglers landed two kingfish in the 20-pound range.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.