What's hot: Offshore fishing has produced surprises lately. While targeting gag grouper, scamp and mangrove snapper in water deeper than 150 feet, we also caught kingfish and cobia. One trip southwest of Tarpon Springs produced three kings up to 30 pounds and two cobia. These migratory pelagic species have been appearing more often than normal in recent weeks, prompting a modification to our typical bottom fishing.
Tackle tips: When fishing deep, we often keep a flat line with a monofilament leader and live sardine behind the boat for blackfin tuna. If that line gets hit but the hook gets cut off, we quickly deploy a similar rig with a wire leader. Tuna seldom strike a wire rig, but the kings will, even after they bite a hook off a mono leader.
Chum: When fish on the sonar appear high in the water column, try setting a block of chum in a large meshed bag off the stern. Pelagic fish are often found near schools of other fish, such as snapper, that are suspended off the bottom. Chum not only brings the snapper higher, it can draw open-water fish into range of the baits. Even mahimahi that wander by will stay around the boat longer if there is a steady flow of ground fish in the water.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at lighttacklecharters.com or at (727) 944-3474.