© St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 2002
Locating blue-water species 100 miles offshore can be challenging, so look for changes in sea conditions. Before a recent trip offshore we surveyed the weather to ensure three good days. Infrared mapping of the gulf showed small temperature differences. This indicated tide rips and possible weed lines, good places to look for marlin, wahoo, tuna and dolphin.
We wanted to troll the 100-fathom curve and work out to the "steps," an area dropping off to 1,800 fathoms. We trolled at 8.5-9.5 knots and covered a lot of area. We used binoculars to seek weed lines, tide rips or floating debris holding small baitfish. Trolling six lines with jet heads, "doorknobs" and islander lures rigged with ballyhoo produced nice catches in the past. Daybreak to early morning we ran dark-colored lures and skirts, then switched to light-colored lures.
Tuna and wahoo seemed to prefer jet heads, "wahoo whackers" and tuna clones. We trolled these with dark skirts of black and purple or purple and green. The best for dolphin: pink and blue or green and yellow.
When going far offshore file a float plan with someone on shore and stick to your plan.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.