First mate Joey Drew, left, and Kevin Sachs hoist a huge amberjack that Sachs reeled in recently while fishing on the Florida Fisherman II out of John’s Pass Village. The catch was made on the Florida Middle Grounds.
Warm weather all week has helped to get our fishing back on track countywide. Water temperatures are in the low 70s, which is a little above normal for this time of yea. The recent warm up has brought a modest amount of bait back into the area after last week’s big cold snap. Trout, redfish and flounder are all targetable for inshore anglers and red grouper, hogfish and grey snapper are good offshore targets.
Trout fishing is getting better week by week, which is normal for this time of year. The larger fish began to show up a couple weeks ago and after last week’s cold front, it looks like we’ll be talking a lot about trout in the weeks to come. Spoil islands offer the habitat that adult seatrout look for; rocky/ shell bottom with nearby deep grass is a characteristic that many spoil islands share. Look for the trout to move up onto the light shell bottom with the warming afternoon incoming tide.
Free line live pilchards or select shrimp with an up-current drift; long seven and a half foot rods with light line and light leaders will draw more attention from the larger fish than corked baits. Soft-plastic jigs will also catch plenty of fish. Natural shrimp colors on a quarter ounce jig head bounced off the bottom are a great way to locate the schools of fish
Bottom fishing has been good this week and despite the recent gag grouper closure, there’s plenty of good fish that can be targeted inside fifty foot. Keeper red grouper can be caught by drift fishing hard bottom areas 35 to 50 feet. Frozen squid or frozen mackerel have both been working. Most of the fish are on the small side of legal but there are some big fish in these depths. Hogfish and grey snapper are a blast to catch on light spinning gear. Live or fresh frozen shrimp work great for catching both species. Use a half ounce jig head. Pink is popular but other colors will work as well, or a knocker rig with a one ounce egg sinker and a 3/0 hook.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at email@example.com. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.