What's hot: High water temperatures along the coast have caused a slowdown in the gag grouper action within 30 miles of shore. Regardless of bait or technique, getting the gags to bite has been difficult. Divers report that the fish are there but not feeding. A run out to deep water this week proved successful, with an active bottom bite of gags to 20 pounds, red grouper, and scamp in depths of 175-200 feet. Perhaps even more exciting was the blackfin tuna action. A tuna in the 25-pound class grabbed a freelined bait and was soon landed. We then began chumming, and more came in behind the boat.
Tips: Blackfin tuna usually bite best early in the day and just before dark. If you target them, try to be on your spot at daybreak. Set up and chum with chunks of cut baitfish. You usually will not realize the tuna are there until you cast a freelined chunk or live bait and let it sink. If you have plenty of live bait, toss a few out in the chum line from time to time to keep the tuna fired up. Use very long leaders. We rig our rods with braided line but add a 20-foot top-shot of fluorocarbon at the terminal end so the fish do not get to look at the braid.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.