Sunday, April 22, 2018
Outdoors

Octopi can surprise, make good bait

A big surprise: One of my clients got quite a scare from an unexpected visitor this week. We were fishing in about 60 feet when something grabbed hold of a frozen sardine. We first thought a grouper had nabbed the bait. But after a few cranks, it didn't seem right. The rod tip was slowly pulling down, feeling like dead weight. Convincing someone this excited they had snagged a rock, sponge or piece of fan coral is sometimes impossible. But something was not right. One minute into the battle, a 4-foot octopus crawled out of the water and onto the tip of the rod then lunged at his lap. After all the screaming and yelling stopped, the octopus was subdued. I explained to the distraught angler there was no such thing as sea monsters. We all had a good laugh once the ordeal was over.

Great bait: Octopi are relatively harmless and are commonly found in the bay area during the winter. They love stone crabs. This is most likely why our stone crab season is so slow. If you happen to come across one of these unusual animals, be sure to keep it for bait. We cut the tentacles into 6-inch segments and took them to our next stop. Almost instantly, a 10- and 12-pound gag grouper inhaled them. Dropping the tentacle to the bottom and slowly moving it up and down was the ticket for success. This tactic resembles worm-like motions, driving big fish wild.

Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.

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