The main concern for anglers this weekend is the weather.
The moderate temperatures and winds of the past few days had me daydreaming of water temperatures of 68 to 70 and king mackerel along the beach, but reality set in as I read this weekend's weather forecast.
Seas are forecast to be as high as 7 feet with winds of 20 knots blowing from every point on the compass. Air temperatures are forecast to stay in the high 60s to mid 70s, so nearshore water temperatures should start to rise, if only slightly. The few days after this front you can expect to find fish offshore on large breaks and pieces of high structure.
In the past week we have had outstanding catches of amberjack on springs and wrecks in more than 120 feet. They have fed aggressively on everything from pinfish to large bucktail jigs. On one wreck they were so thick near the surface we could sight cast to them.
The key when chasing AJs is large live baits and strong terminal tackle. The fish show up on a bottom machine as lines, and they can be found over a wreck or as far as 500 yards from structure. The average fish has been about 30 pounds with several over 70 mixed in.
The snapper bite has been good, with mangos feeding on small pinfish and jigs tipped with cut sardine in 90-100 feet. Use your bottom machine to look for fish suspended 8-20 feet above a break or pothole. On my color machine they show up as blue streaks.
If the current is not ripping you can hang a chum bag, and snapper will follow the scent to the surface. Snapper have great eyes, so use small hooks and 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon leaders.
As spring approaches you can expect to find yellowtail snapper. Our average fish has been in the 4- to 6-pound range. The grouper bite has been okay the past week but not phenomenal. As we get further from last week's full moon, the bite should improve.
Now would be a great time to start preparing for the upcoming run of pelagics. Take your rods and reels to a shop and have the line and drags replaced. Wash your cast nets and soak them overnight in a fabric softener. Start making kingfish rigs, because better weather and fishing is coming soon.