© St. Petersburg Times, published December 15, 2002
Mother Nature has been making it tough to find a day to run offshore the last couple of weeks. If you have Monday and Tuesday off, you're in luck. Light winds and calm seas the next couple of days will make getting offshore a little easier, and you'll have a great shot at having a banner day.
Run out to water at least 40 feet deep because the shallower water is a bit muddy from all the wind during recent weeks. On my last trip, the best bite was in 50-65 feet around the anchored ships north of Egmont Channel.
Use a mix of frozen bait to start things off. You may find that that's all the grouper want, but take along some live bait just in case. Pinfish have been thick in 3 to 5 feet near the grass flats around Bunces Pass.
If it's snapper you're looking for, head south and fish in 60-85 feet of water. Small ledges and the hard bottom south of the Peaks have been holding a few nice fish in the 2- to 5-pound class, with a couple of gags mixed in.
Don't stay in one place too long if the fish aren't biting. You may have to change spots several times before you find them, but if you're willing to put in the time you'll end the day with a nice box of fish.
-- Randy Rochelle runs Islander Charters in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 528-1213 or by e-mail at Islandercharters@ij.net.