Kingfish action has been great near shore lately and there is plenty of mackerel around too mixed in among the kings. From the Skyway all the way out of the shipping channel is a great spot to start looking for the bait schools. However, simply trolling around the channel will work well to produce plenty of mackerel and some nice kingfish too. I like trolling a few planners and spoons and then a few of the rapala Xrap magnum 20’s and 30’s with maybe one or two top water skirted plugs in the mix as well. However, often once you find em the action is so quick and so chaotic you only need a few lines out to get plenty of fish coming into the boat. Around 40-90 foot is a great depth to start looking for them. Also, do not forget to have your flat line out while your bottom fishing for grouper and snapper to have a shot at a kingfish or big mackerel that happens upon your boat.
Hogfish bites have slowed quite a bit bug some nice ones are still ready to eat if your able to get out there to them around 40-80ft of water. Live shrimp and light tackle on smaller ledges, hard rock bottom or structures similar to this is a great place to look for the hogfish. As the water continues to warm, they will get more picky so get out while you can to get your shot a great eating hogfish.
Snapper fishing has been great lately for lane snapper, mangrove snapper and the occasional vermillion from around 60-100ft of water. Mangrove snapper are biting well on the threadfin plugs and around 30-40lb test and 4-5ot hooks near shore. I always utilize the double snell rig when targeting snapper with dead bait. Also, higher gear ratio conventional reels make it easy to ensure you don’t miss the bite. Keep in mind most spinning reels are already high gear ratio and if your snapper fishing these will work well too. I don’t prefer them for bigger fish because of their high gear ratio that means you have less power. When you need to pull up a big grouper, I prefer a mid to low gear ratio heavy duty conventional reel with 35-40lbs of drag or more near shore.
Grouper fishing has been going pretty well near shore, not quite as good as it is offshore but were seeing some nice red grouper action around 80-100ft of water in the furthest near shore waters.