The small windows of opportunity between the severe fronts we have been experiencing produced banner catches of bottom fish and great catches of pelagics. The temptation was to run farther offshore, but it was not necessary to venture deeper than 60 feet to engage in almost nonstop action from red and gag grouper, triggerfish and white grunts. Mangrove snapper was elusive despite deploying smaller baits and light tackle. Several boats that ventured into deeper water, especially on the natural gas pipeline, reported good snapper catches and a slow grouper bite. With the water temperature nearing 70 degrees the bottom fish are in a transitional phase, returning to their summertime depths where bait will soon be abundant. Kingfish, spanish mackerel and bonita were found on all mid-water artificial reefs in smaller numbers than last week indicating that the first group had moved on and the next push will be larger and in greater numbers as usually occurs each year.
Tip: Because of the seemingly endless winds that we have been experiencing, once a good day presents itself, the deeper water beckons. Making the long run at this time of year we tend to pass over large quantities of fish. Pulling back the throttles saves expensive fuel, and allows more time to have lines in the water.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.