June 27th, 2017

Captain’s Corner for June 29 Dave Zalewski 460-9893

This is turning out to be a strange fishing summer. Barracuda, which normally arrive in numbers and take up residence on most of the artificial reefs and wrecks in mid-May and provide memorable light tackle catch and release sport fishing have been noticeable by their absence. Mackerel fishing has also been spotty with small schools of fish rather than the large quantities that often provided non stop action for those either trolling small spoons and plugs or live baiting them. Perhaps it is this lack of prey that has kept the barracuda ,the apex predator away.
Normally we like to spend part of our trips trolling and part of the trip bottom fishing. Starting out trolling on our way to offshore ledges and hard bottom areas to target benthic species. Grouper fishing in the 80 to 100 foot depths has been hit or miss lately, but the snapper fishing has been excellent. Lane snapper have taken over in many of the areas targeted for red grouper at this time of year. Along with the Lanes are yellowtail and vermillion snapper along with the ever present white grunts, often called gray snapper in our area.
The key to catching these colorful, tasty fish is the downsizing of tackle to 12 to 15 pound class or even lighter if you are comfortable with that. Fresh water bass tackle is ideal. 1/0 or 2/0 hooks, with chunks of squid or sardine can be fished in 3 ways. A “knocker” rig can be used where a sliding egg sinker is allowed to rest against the hook, a 2 hook snapper rig with a dipsey sinker underneath, or a conventional gulf rig with a sinker either swivel or sliding above a 2 foot leader. All work, but we are leaning towards the knocker rig for mangrove snapper and the 2 hook rig for Lanes and vermillions.