What's hot: This past week our offshore trips were in what I call storm-fishing mode. During the winter we have cold fronts that pass by with blustery winds and big seas, and during the summer we have tropical events. When conditions are like this the bottom is just as tough of a place to be as the surface. Rolling currents and fast moving water make it very difficult for fish such as grouper to stay in one place without having to spend all of their energy swimming in place. This is when these fish will find the largest structure they can and hunker down, just like we do when conditions get bad.
Proof: The Saturday before Isaac, I hit a little area of ledges in about 90 feet. The fishing was average at best. The storm went by and seven days later I ran by the same area on the way offshore. I decided to test this theory and went right back to one of the same breaks. The catches began immediately. We ended with our limit of gag grouper to about 15 pounds and threw back nine legal gags on that same spot.
What else: Cobia are in the area a bit early. Typically we start seeing these fish around November along with the fall migration of king mackerel. Always have a rod rigged and ready for one of these bruisers. In most cases they will swim by, just to see if there is an easy meal for them. This happened Sunday and we were ready. We saw one fish coming in from the stern and by the time he was close enough we already had a pinfish secured to a spinning rod rigged with a 7/0 circle hook. As soon as the bait hit the water the fish was on. It pays to be prepared.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.