Captain’s Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

Published February 11
Updated February 12

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldn’t go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-foot depths, and that was a mistake. Hoping to find lane and mangrove snapper along with red grouper, we were disappointed to find a few white grunts and numerous squirrelfish on the Swiss cheese hard bottom, which was probably holding fish that were not in a feeding mood because of the temperature. We had to return to the 60-foot depths for noticeable action, and the small ledges and hard bottom produced. The grouper bite was almost nil, but by spending time on a spot and chumming with small pieces of frozen sardine and squid, we were able to return with a nice box of white grunts, porgies, sea bass and a few hogfish. As the water temperature rose a few degrees, there was a noticeable change in fish activity. Learning from the trip to deeper water, we stayed in the 60-foot depths and returned each day with a mixed bag of great eating fish, including a few red grouper.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.