Cold water and high winds ruined fishing Sunday and Monday. The forecast for the rest of this week looks good if you can get to 100 feet-plus of water safely. Though water off Clearwater is in the high 50s, the water at 160 is 65-plus.
Last week before the cold front, the amberjack bite was nonstop in 160 feet 78 miles southwest of Pass-A-Grille. They ate spot-tail grunts and very small pinfish. In the middle of this jack feeding frenzy, a 10-foot mako shark ate several 30-pound-plus AJs that were attached to hooks and on their way to the boat. Having seen two makos that close, we stopped fishing to observe. The mako became extremely agitated at losing his free lunch and took several swipes at the boat over the next 10 minutes before swimming back down the ledge. Chris Clark caught two 35-pound-plus gag grouper on the trip.
To fish that far offshore when the water is as cool as it is now, you must be certain your safety equipment is in order. Hypothermia in 50- to 60-degree water sets in within 60 minutes, with a survival time of 1-6 hours. A good life jacket will not do you a lot of good in cold water; you need a life raft, Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon and satellite phone or single sideband radio to get help to you quickly.
_ Mike Whitman charters the Mega Bite out of Gulfport. Call (727) 384-5729 or e-mail captmegabitecharters.com.