© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2002
Blue water fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for dolphin, wahoo and tuna is excellent.
We headed 50 miles offshore and trolled in 150 feet of water and worked our way to 600 feet, about 100 miles offshore.
Trolling speeds vary, but we went 7.5 to 9.5 knots depending on the currents and sea conditions.
In the early morning we used dark colored lures: purple and black, red and blue, black and green-skirted. Door knobs, Jet heads and rigged ballyhoo worked the best. Around 10 a.m. we changed skirt colors to blue and silver, green and yellow, and pink and silver. The lighter colored skirts work better and attract more fish during good light conditions.
Look for tide rips, floating debris and weed lines. Blue water fish are never far from a food source and offshore any floating object will have fish around it. Weed lines hold large bait schools and produce the most fish offshore.
The Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico is the equivalent to the Gulf Stream on the East Coast. The current can be found as close as 70 miles from our shores and up to 200 miles offshore. You can find the current by using the Internet weather channels. The Loop Current runs south to north and has produced marlin up 650 pounds on this coast.
Kingfishing continues to produce good size fish. We boated a few in the high 20s last week along with some 40-pound barracuda. Live bait slow-trolled is the most effective way to catch these big fish.
Amberjacks are tearing up the baits in 80 to 130 feet of water. Live bait on 50-pound test tackle works best. Our bait of choice for jacks is live blue runners and big pinfish.
Permit fishing also is excellent. The Betty Rose and Shrimp Barge have been producing permits up to 30 pounds. Live small blue or pass crabs work best, free-lined behind your boat. Large live shrimp also work as an alternative to crabs.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
TODAY-SUNDAY: Spearfish/Photo Tournament, the Landing at Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Gulfanatic's Dive Club, 934-6474. SATURDAY: Tarpon tournament, Miller's Marina, Tarpon Club, (941) 964-8080. SATURDAY-SUNDAY:Trout tournament, Dunedin Fishing Center, register Saturday, 738-5628. UPCOMING:Grouper tournament, June 8, Billy's Stonecrab, Tierra Verde, register June 7, 542-3900.
TUESDAY: Safe boating, St. Petersburg, 898-8774 or 823-3753