With falling water temperatures and bait fish making their way into the near shore waters off of the coast, we can expect the fall migration of gag grouper to be in full swing with the next two or three cold fronts that make their way into the central Gulf of Mexico waters. While there are scattered fish here and there in depths as shallow as 40 feet, the more consistent bite now can still be found in depths greater than 100 feet. On a recent trip offshore we started on a few ledges with great fish shows in 60-70 feet. The catch was less than impressive. A move to a few more breaks in the 90- to 100-foot range produced a little better bite, but less than expected. Finally we reached a small break in 120 feet where we landed a half a dozen gags in the 10- to 15-pound range and a nice catch of mangrove snapper in the 4- to 6-pound range. Run and gun to locate fish offshore. In most cases bottom species like snapper and grouper will quickly show if they are present so donít waste too much time at any one location. The fall migration of cobia is right on time. Target cobia by either sight casting or fishing live baits on the bottom. Often these curious fish will swim up to the back of an anchored boat, and can be caught easily with a medium to heavy spinning rod and a live pinfish. Last week, at a wreck in 150 feet of water, these fish were successfully targeted while fishing live baits right on the bottom on the up-tide side of the structure.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.