Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mixed bag awaits those venturing offshore

Hurricane Ike appears to have had a positive effect on our offshore fishing for both benthic (bottom) and pelagic (trolling) fish.

Once we were able to venture offshore, we were surprised by both the species and numbers of fish that we encountered. On most days we encountered voracious schools of mixed ladyfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel attacking schools of baitfish as soon as we passed under the John's Pass Bridge.

Deploying No. 1 spoons behind a No. 1 planer, a small gold spoon behind a trolling sinker and a small feather jig resulted in multiple hookups.

The Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach artificial reefs are all home to Spanish mackerel, some schoolie-sized kingfish and barracuda waiting to pounce on a hooked mackerel being brought to the boat. These predators are actively feeding in anticipation of the upcoming winter months and provide excellent light tackle action for anglers slow-trolling live blue runners.

The South County, Rube Allyn and Indian Shores artificial reefs have been holding good numbers of keeper gag grouper. The popular theory is that the gags seek shelter from the storm by moving to large ledges and other higher profile structure. Trolling large gold plugs behind a No. 3 planer over the various structure will produce not only grouper but also some larger kingfish.

Mangrove snapper, gag grouper, triggerfish and white grunts produced almost nonstop action on every ledge we fished in the 70- to 80-foot depths.

On Sunday, kingfish became a welcome nuisance for us while bottom fishing. They were in the 25- to 30-inch range and were cutting our monofilament leaders as soon as they were dropped to the bottom. The kingfish were preying on schools of cigar minnows and Spanish sardines that were attracted to the activity created by our chum. Using a small trolling lead along with a stinger-rigged live cigar minnow put the bait near the bottom and resulted in a limit catch. Mid September is early for kingfish to be in the area in more than limited numbers and is a sign that a great fall run is on the way.

Red snapper were caught in water as shallow as 70 feet and released because of the closed season. Ninety feet of water produced great red grouper action both by drifting and anchoring. Drifting with frozen sardines, squid and butterflied squirrelfish also produced catches. Those anchoring over the "Swiss cheese" bottom did well by starting with dead baits and switching to large pinfish or small blue runners with their tails cut off once the bite was established.

The strong east winds prevented us from venturing offshore after the weekend, but it did not keep us from fishing. The mitigation reefs between Sand Key and North Redington Beach produced plenty of mackerel in the protected waters near the shore.

Many tarpon were spotted rolling and crashing into tightly packed schools of baitfish. We were not prepared for them and they ignored everything that we presented.

Mixed bag awaits those venturing offshore 09/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 1:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned


    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]