For fishing offshore in the gulf, conditions are anyone's guess. High winds and rough seas forced us to cancel all of our trips in the past week. Downtime was spent checking tackle, doing routine maintenance and building stinger rigs to prepare for the expected Spanish and king mackerel invasion. The rapid cooling of the upper gulf and high surf from Hurricane Ida will cause the major fall migration to reach our waters. The long trips offshore to bag grouper won't be necessary because the fish will tend to congregate in waters from 20 to 60 feet deep.
Tip: Stone crab season opened Oct. 15, and buoys attached to the traps provide a visual reference for bottom fisherman and trollers. Crabbers place traps on limestone outcroppings where crabs live. Where there is an accumulation of traps, some great grouper bottom is near. Anchor over ledges in these areas to get gag grouper, mangrove snapper, triggerfish and white grunts. For grouper, troll large lipped plugs or use a No. 3 or 4 planer with a large jointed plug or curly tailed jig. Trolling spoons, plugs and rigged ballyhoo alongside the lines of traps will result in Spanish mackerel, kingfish and possibly cobia. Tripletail are often lying next to crab buoys.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.