Warming weather and improving conditions are bringing the migratory game fish back into bay area waters. These fish have been bounced around a bit by exceptionally harsh late-season cold fronts.
New offshore target: Although baitfish, kingfish, mackerel and cobia are the most heralded arrivals, another migratory fish has begun to appear on the deep wrecks — permit. These prized members of the jack family inhabit wrecks and other large underwater structures from March until August. They feed on crustaceans and mollusks and almost never bite the baits used by a majority of grouper, amberjack or kingfish anglers. Small crabs are by far the best bait, with live shrimp a distant second.
Where to look: Offshore permit are fickle. Knowing which wrecks are holding them can be tricky. On calm days, usually during the slack tide, the big permit often come to the surface, gently waving their sicklelike fins above the water. When you cannot see the fish, try drifting a few crabs over a structure, allowing your bait to fall into the lower portion of the water column. My favorite way to check a wreck for permit is to grab a mask and fins and freedive down to see exactly what is there.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. Call
(727) 944-3474 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.