tampabay.com

Daily fishing report

By DAVE MISTRETTA
Published September 7, 2006


This week, offshore fishing proved summer was nearing its end. Water temperatures remain in the upper 80s even 40 miles out, and the hot sun feels brutal after a few hours of direct exposure, but there have been some dramatic changes below.

We started to catch grouper in 55 to 65 feet of water. The number of keepers was nothing to brag about but still better than it has been all year. Many undersized red and gag grouper accompanied the keeper fish. Key West grunts and other reef fish helped make each stop active. These fish were not present in these depths two months ago, proving the fall migration has started. By October we should see some decent numbers of bottom fish as close in as 40 feet.

The Red Tide obviously had negative effects on much of our limestone bottom, leaving areas void of life for months. This has started to change in a positive way. Budding growth on many reefs has been witnessed, showing a major rebound from last year.

Our trip Sunday produced three keeper grouper, two keeper scamp and a few nice mangrove snappers in depths of 58 to 68 feet. A couple of sharks also taunted us as bottom lines were deployed.

Another trip produced five keeper gags off the first stop in 69 feet. Live bait worked the best but still required a bit of work. We have been drifting along the edges of sand and hard bottom, reeling up numerous squirrelfish and a few sardines before bottom fishing.

Tuesday night we took advantage of the full moon action. Thirty-four mangrove snapper were brought up in a few hours. Two were more than 7 pounds. As soon as the sun went down and the incoming tide started to move, the action began. A giant school of goggle eyes swam up to the transom, eager to eat all the hooks on our sabiki rigs. These great baits often show up at night around any illumination. Depths of 100 feet or more are often where you find them. As soon as the goggle eyes were sent to the bottom, a giant mangrove snapper would attack. They were one of the best snapper baits we have ever tried.

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