February 11th, 2017

Captain’s Corner for February 13 Dave Zalewski 460-9893

Water temperatures have reached 70 degrees offshore causing confusion amongst both fish and fishermen alike. Before last weeks cold front we were catching many undersize kingfish (24 inch minimum fork length) with a few keepers mixed in with them. Now most of the fish are not huge, but are keepers between 24 and 31 inches in length. We are targeting the area from South County artificial reef south to the shipping channel using #1 and 2 planers with medium and large gold or blue spoons. During normal trolling season, which typically begins in mid to late March, we like to start with planers and hardware to determine if kingfish, mackerel and bonita are in our targeted area and then switch to live baits caught on site to match what the fish are feeding on to provide a more sporting way to catch them. This method should be working now, but it has not. Spoons and plugs trolled at 5.5 to 6 knots produce many fish. It has been frustrating to catch numerous live baits and find the fish unwilling to strike then.
Grouper fishing still remains spotty in the 60 to 90 foot depths, but there are many species to fill the gap. Mangrove, Lane, and vermillion snapper along with white grunts provide non stop action and great table fare for those switching to light tackle. A two hook snapper rig with 1/0 or 2/0 hooks with squid or pieces of sardine work best. Triggerfish and red snapper, both species closed to harvest , have been providing exciting catch and release action on the light tackle. Red snapper are voracious feeders and oftentimes swallow the hook. If it cannot be easily removed it is best to cut the leader as close as possible to the hook and release the fish giving it a chance to reject the hook. Giving that fish a chance at survival is worth much more than a 25 cent hook