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)

Offshore trips produce surprises; tarpon roam the beaches

This time of year can be full of surprises if you're venturing offshore.

Just a few days ago we landed a giant sailfish about 40 miles out. Our plan was to troll over deep-water wrecks, in search of kingfish, bonito, barracuda or anything else willing to bite. The kingfish are normally huge this time of year, many of them large females, weighing more than 35 pounds. Our reels were filled with new 20-pound monofilament in preparations for a giant mackerel running out lots of line.

The sailfish grabbed the live cigar minnow and headed for Mexico. After a spectacular aerial show, the fish was boatside for a short photo session. We estimated the fish at about 70 pounds and released it 1 mile from where it grabbed the bait.

We trolled back over to the wreck, catching a kingfish and numerous barracuda. A school of late-season cobias became curious and followed a barracuda to the boat. Within seconds we had two of the bigger fish hooked at the same time. The anglers ended up holding two 30-plus-pounders together for a photo.

We began to catch large bonito and immediately dropped a couple down over the wreck hoping for something big. In a matter of seconds a goliath grouper (we assumed) grabbed the bonito and headed for the wreck. Another bonito was sent down, and it too was devoured and taken into the wreck. These giant fish did get away, but it wasn't too heartbreaking.

We have also seen some big whale sharks roaming around some of the deep-water wrecks. They are quite impressive to watch. Wrecks holding juvenile bait schools seem to be the best thing to attract these 30-plus-foot sharks.

This weekend we will target snapper during the full-moon phase. They are fattening up for their annual spawn. It's common to have a tremendous bite during the incoming tide, which coincides with the setting sun. As soon as darkness sets in the moon rises, keeping the snapper active. There will also be a major lunar period a few hours into the rising moon.

Tarpon are still available along the beaches. Anglers anchoring and tossing live baits have been producing some fish. It's also a good idea to toss a few dead shad or ladyfish on the bottom. Not only will the tarpon grab the bottom baits, but sharks will often eat them too. We have even caught some huge snook on the dead baits.

Some days are slower than others because the tarpon are on the move most of the time. It seems as if there will be two or three days in a row of good fishing, then two or three days of slower action. The slower days are usually related to the tides. Slower tide days don't produce near the action as the swifter moving tides.

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

Offshore trips produce surprises; tarpon roam the beaches 08/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  2. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  3. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.