Offshore adjustment: When we finally were able to venture out last week we were greeted by silty water conditions on the artificial reefs that drove the Spanish mackerel and kingfish away. We moved to 50-foot depths, where the water finally cleaned up somewhat, and bottom-fished. Two of our setups were small, two-hook snapper rigs, and the other four were rigged for grouper (4-ounce sinkers, 6/0 circle hooks, 50-pound leader on 40-pound class tackle). As expected, the smaller squid-baited circle hooks provided nonstop action on the spin tackle from large white grunts, small red grouper and triggerfish while the larger tackle resulted in grunts, short red grouper and empty hooks. After a lull, the rods doubled over with both keeper red and gag grouper.
Analysis: The somewhat dirty water conditions led to diminished sight ability for the fish. The commotion of the smaller reef fish being caught created a natural chum slick when those fish expelled their stomach contents on the way up. These factors drew benthic fish in to where they found it hard to resist the large live or dead baits presented.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.