Temperature tracking: Recent cold fronts brought down water temperatures even more, leaving Clearwater Bay 59 degrees at the surface. Water temperatures were up a few miles from the beaches but not near the 65 degrees that is normal for this time of year. Seven warm days in a row will get things right again.
Where the action is: With the wind down, we opted to venture far from shore rather than deal with the cold. Fifteen miles out, the water read 70 degrees, so the anchor was dropped. Grouper were quite willing to eat dead and live baits. Numerous undersized fish were mixed with gags in the 15-pound range. Key West grunts and triggerfish were also active.
More warm-water success: Amberjack were plentiful on the springs and wrecks 30 miles out. Our limit of one per person was met with ease, with all the fish at least 30 inches. The water was also a tolerable 70 degrees. Bonito and lots of kingfish were available on the bait stacks in 80 feet. While gold-hooking some baitfish, kings started to swipe at the rigs as they came up with bait. Seconds later we had multiple hookups. Our limit of two per person was met easily. Most of the fish were schoolie size, about 12 pounds.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, jawstoo.com and (727) 595-3276.