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Early waves of the fall migration signal lots of keepers on the way

The fall fish migration in the gulf is right on schedule.

Our last few trips have produced banner catches of grouper and snapper. On our first drops in 90 feet of water, we boated six big gag grouper, 12 large mangrove snapper and our limit of red grouper. With time to explore, we fished in 80 feet with the same results. Then we tried 70 feet. We still found keepers there. The number of keepers was not as high as the deeper waters, but these were new arrivals of grouper, as these same locations had no keepers a few weeks earlier.

Our final stop was in 59 feet of water. This would tell us how far the gag grouper migration had traveled toward shore. After releasing several small gags, we hit the jackpot again. Expect this migration to work closer to shore in the next two weeks. We should see keeper fish in depths as shallow as 25 feet by the end of the month.

Recently, we caught two 50-pound sailfish while grouper fishing at 80 feet. Dolphin fish, also referred to as "mahi mahi," have been coming to us while grouper fishing, too. Some of the fish were over 7 pounds.

Upcoming action: A few small kingfish have been boated already. Anglers catching their limits of Spanish mackerel have periodically hooked some small kings about 26 inches long. They are unimpressive in size, but a true indicator the run is about to begin. The best areas to target for this type of action are about 3 miles from shore. Look for the flocks of sea birds working the surface, along with leaping mackerel and bonito. By Halloween there will be giant macks at all depths.

Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, e-mail or see

Early waves of the fall migration signal lots of keepers on the way 10/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 2:19pm]
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