During this time of year, huge changes take place in the eastern gulf, with many species following huge schools of bait into the area. Red grouper: For the rest of the month we will continue to focus our efforts in depths of 80-120 feet. With the majority of these fish spawning offshore around the 40-fathom curve, we have been working areas with 1-2 fish per stop in order to put a good box of fish together for our customers. Live baits have been working best, but many fish are also being taken on large frozen sardines. Kingfish: Water temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees, bait schools are everywhere, and the kings are right behind them. These fish appear sporadically now, so cover a lot of ground if you want to catch them. Use trolling spoons and planers. Concentrate your efforts around the Rube Allen and Indian Shores reefs. Cobia: A few have been spotted in the area in the past week. Look for them around wrecks and reefs. Many times, anchoring up and starting a small chum line will bring them right to the boat. Live bait such as pinfish or threadfin herring will do, but cobia rarely pass up 1- or 2-ounce bucktail jigs. Look for numbers to increase through April and May. Tuna: The best technique for targeting them is securing lots of live chummers. Pilchards and scaled sardines by the hundreds can be cast netted at most area bridges before the sun comes up. After those are in the well, concentrate your search in at least 100 feet of water over ledges, hard-bottom areas or wrecks and springs. Anchor down and let the freebies fly by the net full. Fish in our area average 20 to 30 pounds, so you won't need to keep a lot to feed a bunch of people.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.