Fishing has been outstanding over the last week. Perfect weather and light seas allowed many to take advantage of early season kingfish and Spanish mackerel fishing as well as great bottom fishing for grouper and mangrove snapper.
Hard bottom areas in 40- to 50-foot are holding plenty of keeper grouper.
When the conditions are right drift fishing can be more productive than anchoring, accounting for plenty of red grouper and the occasional gag. Keeping a flat-line out during the drift will pick up kingfish, some of which have been over 20 pounds and plenty of Spanish mackerel.
Mangrove snapper have been bunched up on this full moon phase. Artificial reefs as well as big ledges are holding huge numbers of snapper. Chumming them with cut pilchards will bring them right behind the boat at times. Free-line or lightly weight one of the pieces you’re chumming within a natural drag free presentation, and it won’t take long to secure a limit of these scrappy fighters.
Inshore, redfish action has been picking up as of late.
Target morning low tides for best fishing; as the water finishes falling off your favorite flat right around sunrise so should the redfish. Target flats that have a distinct drop-off often indicated by a slightly shallower sand bar along the edge.
The deep side of the sand bar will often be made up of sparse grass, perfect bottom for bouncing soft-plastic jigs. Darker colors will typically produce better as they more accurately represent the shrimp and crabs the redfish are used to seeing.
Clear blue skies. We’re going to see our first real cold front this week, and when all the clouds finally move out and high pressure builds back in on the backside of the front, the sky is often bright blue and completely cloudless.
This might look pretty enough but can make for some tough fishing. Shallow water fish become very wary under these conditions and will often lay on the bottom motionless and wait for more favorable conditions.
Slow down your presentation when casting artificial lures, or switch to cut-bait instead of live bait. This will give the fish a better opportunity to find your bait.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.