tampabay.com

Daily fishing report

By DAVE MISTRETTA
Published March 23, 2005


It has been a confusing week of bottom fishing.

One day the grouper are eating everything dropped to the bottom, and the next only a few are biting. The unseasonably cold water is to blame. This week has finally brought warmer weather, so we should be back on track soon. It looks as if things will bust loose the last few days of March. Just a few degrees higher and we will have plenty of kings and grouper in shallower water.

An offshore trip a few days ago produced great results. Amberjack was available at a wreck in 130 feet of water. They weren't as plentiful as a month ago, but five nice fish were taken. After the jacks, we went searching for grouper. The biggest problem fishing this depth this time of year is trying to avoid the American red snappers. They were on all three of my grouper spots. The season is closed until mid April, so all were released. Fishing in 100-foot depths requires anglers to make a small incision behind the pectoral fin before release. This allows the trapped gas to escape the body cavity, enabling the fish to descend more easily. This release procedure gives the fish a much better chance of survival.

There were some nice red grouper in depths of 120 feet. A few gags and big mangrove snapper were also brought up. In the end, the day provided plenty of action. Fuel prices are so high, it will be wonderful to catch the springtime action closer to shore. Until then there are plenty of fish out deep if you can afford to fill the tank.

Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call 727 595-3276, or e-mail jawstoo@msn.com