Bottom fishing: Fishing has finally started to get back on track. Putting keepers in the box is still quite a feat due to the recent grouper closure. Grunts, sea bass and blue point porgies have gotten more aggressive. Simply dropping down a couple of squid chunks will get instant results. Adding these smaller reef fish to the fish box is a great idea because their fillets are mild and delicious. Don't be surprised if you catch a big flounder or two. They are often found in the deeper waters of the gulf during February. With warmer conditions in the forecast, expect water temperatures to creep up, allowing spring to take hold. It's only a matter of days before we have kingfish, sharks, cobia, mackerel and many other fish to target. March is always the month that gets the ball rolling for these migratory fish.
Amberjack: Meanwhile, we have caught some nice amberjack. It takes a good bit of fuel to run out to the depths that are holding the bigger fish. Until last week, we were traveling more than 100 miles to get the giant school under the boat. As we enter March, you'll find more to target. In many instances, you will be able to find them at 10-mile reefs, though water temperatures will have to go up a bit before that happens.
Big baits: We have caught sardines, cigar minnows and pinfish in 90 feet. Their size is amazing because all are adult baitfish. This will get the attention of even the most finicky amberjack, giving them more wiggle on the hook and often creating a feeding frenzy.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or see www.jawstoo.com.