Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Shallow-water reef fish can fill in the gaps

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Great fishing: There's been plenty of action on the bottom in depths of 50 feet and shallower. We've had consistent success with many different reef fish. Key West grunts, porgies, triggerfish and sea bass have been eager to eat. Present the bait close to the bottom for best results. Larger reef fish like chunks of squid presented no more than 2 feet from the bottom. We use what's often referred to as a porgy rig. The sinker sits on the bottom and two hooks are positioned about 12 inches apart, above the sinker. Anglers can enjoy reeling in two fish at a time.

Make the best out of it: During these days of numerous closed seasons on various species, get creative with what's available. Keep a few of these smaller reef fish for a fish fry. We've also been bringing home a few keeper red groupers in these same depths. Gag grouper eventually show up on just about every stop we make. Some anglers are using live shrimp and targeting hog snapper. If you don't mind sifting through the other small reef fish, eventually a hog snapper will bite. A knocker rig (the sinker sliding directly to hook) is best suited for this type of fish because they feed by picking at the bottom with a long snout.

Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.

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