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Daily fishing report
By STEVE PAPEN
Published May 4, 2006
Grouper fishing this time of year is often overlooked because of the spring run of king and Spanish mackerel moving through our area. Usually, we have to run to 60 to 80 feet to find plenty of red and gag grouper. But lately long runs to depths of at least 120 feet are the norm.
Upon arrival we noticed that the fish are concentrated more on the soft rolls in the hard bottom than the defined ledges. Also, they are in areas where the hard bottom meets the sand. This is where the smaller baitfish will be, as well as the predators.
An added bonus to these longer runs is the availability of red snapper. These fish are found in the same areas as grouper. When targeting red snapper, look for the fish to show off the bottom on your bottom recorder. Most of the time they will be suspended, sometimes as far as half of the water column. Frozen sardines work well for these snapper.
Since these fish are so aggressive, it usually takes only one or two hits before they are hooked. As the bite continues, they will continue to fill the water column. While this is happening, we usually try to fish as far off the bottom as possible because this is where the larger fish will be.
I usually use lighter tackle for the snapper. I prefer to use a long leader, in this case 4-5 feet of 60-80 pound monofilament fixed to an 8/0 hook and the smallest lead I can get away with.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411.