© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003
Patience, versatility and common sense play roles in offshore fishing this time of year.
Common sense comes into play when planning a trip. Make sure all your equipment is in good shape. Don't make the mistake of thinking, "It's my day off, I don't care how bad the weather is, I'm going." Always file a float plan.
As for patience, you may hit a dozen spots before finding hungry fish. Give each spot 30-45 minutes. In cold water fish can be slow to bite.
As for versatility, try different baits and downsize terminal tackle. Mix it up. If grouper aren't biting, try for grunts, sea bass, triggerfish or others.
Good days to run offshore can be rare, so make the most of them. When you do get a nice day, watch the horizon for shrimp boats. If you find shrimp boats, you may find schools of tuna.
-- Randy Rochelle runs Islander Charters in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 528-1213 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.