Thursday, February 21, 2013

2/19/13 Southwest Florida Offshore

I headed 15 miles offshore with my dad on Tuesday and set up on some numbers in 65' to try for whatever was biting. The first spot produced the usual short Red Grouper, Porgies and Grunts. We also had encounters with the usual oddities such as Flounder, Lizard fish, Sand Perch and Puffers. Cut frozen squid and sardines put some fish on ice for us.  I hooked one mammoth fish that broke my 30# leader so it was time to step up the tackle.  I had some numbers from last year where we caught a few Gag Grouper while drifting so we headed that way to see who was home and maybe get some Snapper or Amberjack for the box or C&R some Groupers. I got us anchored just uptide from the numbers, put out a chum bag and started chumming pretty heavy with some old freezer burnt bait that had been sitting in an old freezer since last winter, pew!  I upped our leaders on our bottom rigs to 60# florocarbon and we sent down some bait. With nothing going right away I threw a live shrimp out in the chum slick on a lighter rig with no weight and set it in the rod holder. Within minutes that rod was bent over and the drag was screaming with dozens of yards of 15# power pro peeling off. A couple of broken lines later we smartened up and put out two live shrimp on 3/0 circle hooks with 60# leaders, put them in the chum stream un-weighted and finally boated one of these mean beasts.

These fish are tough hombres and even though we were hooking fish 20' down over 65 f.o.w. it took 30# class rods with 60# leaders to keep from being broken off on the bottom.

         Every time I threw out a big blast of chum it was followed up by a fish or two on the line.

                                                 Here is my dad holding up our first double.

                           Stopped to take a picture of another nice fish (30") and...A broken rod!


                                           Both fish landed...technically, another double right?

We capped it all off with this 32" mule that pulled off dozens of yards of 40# power pro like nothing doing several times, we even had to pull our anchor to land this one.  Wow, they are tough!

At this point we decided to leave this spot alone and hopefully come back sometime when the Grouper harvest season is open. I'll be dreaming of chumming this little ledge again in the months ahead, not to mention Grouper sandwiches... but the Grunts and Porgies tasted okay too.

I caught 18 species of fish in a week inshore and offshore combined, not too shaby but for now it's time to put the rods away, head home and break out the snow shovels.

                                                              Cheers and hooksets!

2/14/13 Southwest Florida Inshore

                                                                                                                                                       I headed down to the Gulf coast of Florida last week and first up was some inshore fishing with my dad for Sea Trout, Snook and Redfish. I fish out of a 15' Gheenoe with a 55# thrust minkota which really lets me get shallow where the Redfish and Snook hang out this time of year. We mostly cast Jig and plastics or gold spoons to the maze of mangrove bays and creeks that are so common around the Sanibel/Captiva intercoastal and Pine Island Sound. The Snook proved to be very tight lipped on this trip but we did manage a half dozen Redfish between 14" and 24". No big Redfish were caught but 5# Redfish are about as sporting as it gets on light tackle.

It took a while to locate the Trout but I tried a nice salt and pepper bottom with a channel edge on one side and a huge Turtle grass flat on the other. The Trout were really stacked up and they tore up our jig and plastics that we aggressively bounced off of the bottom. We boated a few dozen of these aggressive fish with several over 20". When the action slowed a bit we worked back over with a popping cork and shrimp and managed to boat fish every day we were out.

A cold front didn't stop us from from getting out there and working some fish.
Literally all of Florida is rimmed with intercoastal waterways and barrier islands that are brimming with inshore species to fish. One of the best things about this type of fishing is that anyone can use their freshwater bass or walleye tackle and a canoe or kayak to chase these fish down and catch them. They fight really hard and the scenery is hard to beat too.
Cheers and hooksets!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2/10/13 Battle Burbot

Well, it's that time of year again. The 34th annual International Eelpout Festival in Walker is coming up quick. Where beer-bellied bumpkins battle for biggest Burbot. These fish thrive in the deep clear waters of walker bay. I like 20-40 foot deep humps or flats that break quickly into deep water. Fishing can be slow during the day, 6:00-9:00 pm is prime time for 'pout. A rattle spoon or minnow under cork will produce as good as anything. While most attendees won't actually fish, they may be missing out on one of our most under-rated sportfish. Good luck!

One such beer bellied bumpkin...
See, those fish aren't that ugly.
Cheers and hooksets!