February 11th, 2018

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

The winds finally stopped blowing so hard that we were prevented from venturing offshore last week and we finally were able to enjoy calm seas. Water temperatures were still in the low 50’s offshore at the beginning of the week and this definitely had an effect on the fish behavior offshore. Because the seas were calm we ventured out to the 80 to 90 foot depths to start and it did not take long to realize that this was a mistake. Hoping to find Lane and mangrove snapper along with red grouper, we were disappointed to find a few white grunts and numerous squirrelfish on the Swiss cheese hard bottom that was probably holding fish that were not in a feeding mood because of the temperature. We had to return to the 60 foot depths to produce any noticeable action and the small ledges and hard bottom produced for us. The grouper bite was almost nil, but by spending time on a spot and chumming with small pieces of frozen sardine and squid we were able to return with a nice box of white grunts, porgies ,sea bass, and a few hogfish.
As the week progressed and the water temperature rose a few degrees, there was a noticeable change in fish activity. Learning from the trip to the deeper water, we stayed in the 60 foot depths and returned each day with a mixed bag of great eating fish including a few red grouper.
On the way back in on one of the days we ventured offshore we were greeted by a welcome sight. Blue lights from a FWC patrol boat stopping us to check for state license, Federal permits and fish. The officer was very professional and pleasant and mentioned that he had found on his stops out of season amberjack and trigger fish. Regulations change and it is necessary to keep up with these changes. MyFWC.com and Gulfcouncil.org are the sites to keep one informed of the latest catch and bag limits