Gag grouper were found in 70- to 90-foot depths once the winds calmed. The waters closer to shore were still stirred up, and it seemed the fish could not see or smell the bait.
Once the 70-foot depths were reached, the fish were willing to cooperate. A frozen Spanish sardine with a piece of squid on the hook produced the most action. Patience is necessary. With water temperatures in the 50s, the metabolic rate of fish drops.
We almost left spots because of slow action. Then it seemed as if someone turned on a switch, and a feeding frenzy began.
Ledges in 90-foot depths are holding large numbers of mangrove and lane snapper. Drop at least one rod equipped with 20-pound test line, No. 20 test leader and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook with a sardine tail to see if any of these wary bait stealers are present. Fish with heavier tackle for the grouper.
As the waters cleared closer to shore, the fishing in the 35- to 50-foot depths improved to almost as good as farther offshore. Bottom fishing in 35 feet produced a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for Laura Gill from Shepherds Bush, England. She landed a 35-pound bull redfish that was photographed and released. Until the fish was brought to the surface, we thought she was hooked onto a "grandpa grouper."
These redfish are roaming offshore of the John's Pass area near the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach artificial reefs and can be spotted rolling on the surface under flocks of diving birds.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2aol.com.