Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Red grouper fishing will stay hot, no matter the weather

Red grouper fishing will continue to be hot for the next month even if the weather is not. Large numbers of fish in the 8- to 12-pound class have been in depths of 50-120 feet for some time. Grouper, especially red grouper, can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and should stay in these depths as long as temperatures don't dip into the 50s. If that happens, look for grouper to push a bit farther offshore to stay in their preferred zone. There is no need for live bait while grouper fishing for the next few months. Lower temperatures make the fish lazy, and they will not want to work hard for their next meal. Securing a quality assortment of frozen baits such as sardines, Boston mackerel and squid is key. The freshest baits make the best presentation and make a huge difference in getting a bite going. Some anglers soak these baits the night before an offshore trip in Menhaden oil, which will mimic the smell of a typical feeding frenzy on the bottom over your spot. Amberjack have invaded many offshore wrecks and springs in depths of 70-200 feet. Though their aggressive nature makes them attack just about any artificial presentation, live baits are hard to beat for quantity. On a typical trip, a large live well full of hundreds of baits will be secured on the way offshore. Upon arrival we deploy dozens of "live chummers" to get the fish on the feed. Once the fish are feeding near the surface, we switch to vertical jigs, subsurface swimming baits and surface lures to target the most aggressive — and many times the largest — fish on the spot. Remember that amberjack now must be 34 inches to be kept, and because they are so large, a limit is not always required to bring home a lot of meat for the table. This time of year requires a good bit of planning for a trip offshore. We are always aware of the timing of the next cold front and make sure not to be out when one comes through because of strong winds. Many sites online offer great weather forecasts, along with real-time data that can be onboard through XM weather or VHF radio.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: This is the month to target gag grouper

With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/04/17

Captainís Corner: Speckled sea trout can be easily caught on artificial lures

Speckled sea trout are one of the most reliable targets this time of year. Grass flats are usually empty because of extreme low tides. That causes higher concentrations of fish on the edges and in the deeper grass flats. No live bait is needed. A red...
Published: 12/01/17

Captainís Corner: Cooler weather lures decent gag grouper

Mild temperatures have allowed anglers to get out and explore many areas. Cooler weather has lured decent gag grouper. We expected them to arrive in the past month, and they havenít disappointed. Numerous rocks in 20- to 120-foot depths seem to be ho...
Published: 11/30/17