When we hear "bottom fishing," our thoughts turn to grouper. Tackle must be stout, 40- to 60-pound test line on conventional reels, 50-100 with 4- to 6-ounce sinkers and 6/0 to 9/0 hooks for serious anglers.
Several desirable species also inhabit the bottom. White grunts are our most common reef fish. They make great table fare and can be prepared in any manner. They inhabit hard bottoms and ledges and often provide nonstop action on 15- to 20-pound class tackle, 20-pound test leader, 2- to 3-ounce sinkers and 2/0 to 3/0 hooks.
Trigger fish usually are on ledges and are a good sign a reef is alive. Because of their small mouths and sharp teeth, downsize to a 1/0 circle or J hook and light tackle so the bite can be felt.
Triggerfish have tough skin. Use a sharp knife and diamond sharpener to clean them. Grunts should be scaled, gutted and their gills and eyes removed. Triggerfish need to be scrubbed with a brush to remove the slime, gutted and their gills and eyes removed.
Both species should be scored two-three times on each side and the cuts filled with a mixture of butter and lime or orange juice. The stomach can be filled with a lime or orange. Bake 30 minutes in a greased dish at 350 degrees.
- 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