March 11th, 2017

Captain’s Corner for March 13 Dave Zalewski 460-9893

We like to say that March 17th (St Patrick’s Day) signifies the beginning of kingfish season. This entire winter has been unlike most because there have been enough kingfish to target on a daily basis. Last weekend the waters erupted with kingfish from the shipping channel north to Clearwater with many boats reporting limit (2 per person per day) catches. Trolling spoons and plugs behind planers or trolling sinkers proved to be more effective than slow trolling live bait, but this will soon change with live bait slow trolling to be the method of choice.
Spanish mackerel are on all of the near shore artificial reefs, those 5 to 7 miles offshore, such as St Pete Beach and Madeira Beach Reefs. Mixed in with the Spanish mackerel which, must be at least 12 inch minimum fork length , are numerous juvenile kingfish which closely resemble their cousins the Spanish mackerel. A juvenile kingfish’s lateral line will have a significant dip when compared to a Spanish mackerel whose lateral line will be almost straight. In addition the dorsal fin of a small king will be more gray or white, while a Spanish will be black or very dark in color.
Bottom fishing in the 65 to 70 foot depths has been excellent for all of the snappers and white grunts. Red grouper have been spotty with many shorts being caught before a keeper is put in the box. 2 hook snapper rigs with the sinker on the bottom and squid strips have produced yellowtail, vermillion and Lane snapper in these depths.