If trolling is your kind of fishing, then this is the time of year you should go offshore for some action-packed big-game fishing.
The Gulf of Mexico has been perfect and should stay that way for the rest of summer. Numerous boats, including Team Gators, Double Play and the Enterprise, have made successful trips offshore in pursuit of the mini grand slam of tuna, wahoo and dolphin.
The most productive waters for me have been southwest (245 degrees) of Treasure Island to a depth of 200 feet out to the 40-fathom curve. That's about 50 to 70 miles offshore. There you will find good numbers of all three species. You should look for weed lines, tide lines/rips, floating objects and birds working an area. Troll around these areas and you will catch fish. Trolling techniques vary, however. I find a fast trolling speed, 8-9 mph, seems to produce more strikes.
We use 50-pound-class tackle, with 100- and 200-pound leaders. Most of our fish have been caught on artificials _ Tuna Tangos, Wahoo Wackers, C and H Lures, Jet Heads, Green Machines and Tuna Clones. The best color combination of these lures: black-and-pink and black-and-purple skirts.
Wahoo make long, fast runs on the surface and are considered the fastest fish in the ocean. The tuna will make deep, powerful runs and pound for pound will give you your toughest fight. Dolphin, also known as dorados or mahi-mahi, make airborne acrobatics that earn them a gold medal.
Recently, we boated a 20-pound dolphin, a 25- to 30-pound wahoo and two tuna (mini grand slam). We also caught three barracuda. I share this thought with a lot of people _ the fish have no idea who is trolling that lure _ so if you are looking for excitement, then offshore is the place to be.
Remember when going offshore let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
_ Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island.