© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003
As water temperatures fall, finding fish willing to eat gets harder. On two recent trips, we found the best bite in 100-120 feet.
In areas of Swiss cheese bottom, we found a good mix of grouper and snapper. Most spots were south of the Egmont Channel, where the temperature was a little warmer. Although we caught more fish with frozen bait, the biggest grouper preferred a live pinfish.
Amberjack can be found at almost any wreck or spring past 100 feet. Use live bait if you can find it or buy it. If not, drop a few diamond jigs and use a fish finder. They won't always be right over the wreck.
After locating the school, try different methods of retrieving the jigs to entice the jacks. Sometimes, a fast retrieve works well. Another method is dropping the jig to the depth of the fish, jerking it up and letting it drop.
Keep hitting different areas until you find fish in a feeding mood and slow down. Some will be lethargic and slow to bite.
-- Randy Rochelle runs Islander Charters in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 528-1213 or by e-mail at Islandercharters@ij.net.