© St. Petersburg Times, published August 18, 2002
Fishing for barracuda offers many of the same thrills as fishing far offshore for exotic species, without the time and expense. Great barracuda are found on artificial reefs and wrecks in this area. Many of the higher profile ledges harbor larger ones.
Their fighting characteristics range from spectacular jumps like sailfish or dolphin, drag-screaming runs like kingfish or wahoo, deep-diving slugfests like amber jack to swimming to the boat with little resistance. To catch barracuda, trolling spoons and plugs behind planers at various depths and ballyhoo on the surface over structure often work well. Stopping the boat, letting bait sink, then returning to trolling can trigger a kingfish or barracuda strike. Pink tube lures trolled behind a No. 1 or 2 planer are effective.
Barracudas will savagely attack grouper and snapper, cutting them in half, so no bait is too large. Blue runners, cigar minnows and Spanish sardines caught with a sabiki rig and hooked up with a stinger rig are effective baits. If targeting a large barracuda, slowly troll a live bonita with a king-size stinger rig.
Small barracuda must be kept well-iced until cleaned. Large barracuda may be toxic and should be released so to thrill another angler.
-- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2@aol.com.