What's hot: Mahi-mahi, blackfin tuna and wahoo are swimming offshore for those who enjoy trolling. But with the offshore currents pushing so much clear water into our nearshore waters, the billfish are showing in 150 to 300 feet of water. In the past two weeks at those depths, we have caught and released five sailfish in the 50- to 70-pound range, and had shots at five others. We also had an estimated 300-pound blue marlin follow a 30-pound blackfin to the boat.
Tactics: My usual trolling spread includes a mix of Islander lures/ballyhoo combos and smaller lures such as Billy Baits. The spread should have the smallest lures farthest from the boat and the largest lures in the prop wash. The smaller lures will catch most of the tuna. Working back toward the boat, the next set of baits should be medium-sized lures or a ballyhoo/lure combo. These will catch the wahoo and mahi-mahi. The closest baits might be the larger ballyhoo and lure combos, or larger plastic baits such as a Mold Craft. These baits get fewer hits, but when one of them does get hit, it's usually a good fish.
Tips: Hilton's (www.realtime-navigator.com) and ROFFS (www.roffs.com) are two Web sites that produce good offshore reports that help anglers find the best areas to fish. Both of these sites show currents, temperature breaks, water temperatures in all areas and more.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.