What's hot: Running deep this time of year can pay big dividends. This area is known for great grouper and snapper fishing, but there is also a great, virtually untapped pelagic fishery. The loop current is part of the Gulf Stream, a warm water current that flows north from Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico then turns south, leaving the gulf through the Straits of Florida. The current is a great place for offshore trolling for white and blue marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mahi mahi and blackfin and yellowfin tuna.
Tips: The current is not the only place to fish. Quite a few companies sell bathymetric charts, which show the contours of the bottom. Study one of these charts to locate areas offshore, inside of 100 miles, where the depth can change as much as 100 feet in less than a mile. These areas are a great place to start.
Techniques: Versatility can make the difference between a good day and a great day offshore. Having many types of baits and lures will help catch more species. The old standby is a rigged ballyhoo, which can be trolled by itself or with a lure. Pick light colors on clear days and dark colors on cloudy days. Trolling speeds vary; when targeting wahoo a popular method is trolling diving lures or heavy baits at speeds up to 16 knots. Sailfish, marlin and mahi take baits trolled between 4-8 knots and prefer ballyhoo combo.
Safety: Make sure all safety gear is in order and float plans are left with someone on land.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.