With rapidly increasing water temperatures offshore, many species have begun spring migration. Spanish sardines have been one of the first to appear, with vast schools appearing on the surface late in the day during calm conditions. Mixed in with the sardines are the first blue runners we have seen since last year. Big migratory amberjack also have appeared on many local wrecks. Many of those fish are much larger than those that have been hanging around all winter. Spots that were holding dozens of undersized AJs a month ago are teeming with keepers, some 30 to 60 pounds. Those bigger fish can be a bit trickier to coax into biting, especially in places that receive regular fishing pressure. To connect with the big ones, present baits in a different manner than they see every day. This can include using a smaller sinker (or eliminating the sinker completely), using a longer and lighter leader, a smaller hook, keeping braided line out of the water and drifting with the motor shut off. Also, use different live baits. Skip the standard live pinfish and try jigging a sabiki rig on the way out to gather something different such as blue runners, sardines or cigar minnows.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at (727) 944-3474.