Friday, January 19, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Shallow sightings

What's hot: Getting in on the shallow water grouper bite as the season winds down before the closure at month's end, we caught gags up to 12 pounds on Saturday. We even had a couple of keeper reds in only 47 feet, 10 miles south and west of the Pass-a-Grille sea buoy. Cut slivers of fresh minnows and a strong outgoing tide expanded our chum slick and resulted in as many mackerel as we cared to catch. We used fly-lined whitebait on light spin tackle, a foot and a half length of No. 2 wire leader (29-pound test) and a 1- or 2-ought hook did the trick.

What else: Along with grouper and mackerel we caught a couple dozen mangrove snapper while bouncing the bottom with 20-pound test, 2-ounce egg sinkers and a length of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. The fish preferred medium whitebait, the friskier the better. We started the grouper with dead stuff. Frozen sardines worked well. Some bigger ones opted for chunks of ladyfish. Once we offered live stuff, that's all they wanted. Pinfish, grunts and extra-large white minnows all got whacked.

What's up: There's kingfish, but it's hit or miss. Soon, cold fronts will drop the water temperature and we'll see more activity. It's no surprise with water temps in the mid 80s tarpon are being jumped by anglers who are mackerel and kingfishing along gulf beaches.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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