tampabay.com

Daily fishing report

By DAVE MISTRETTA
Published October 15, 2006


Grouper fishing picked up dramatically last week. Red and gag grouper were caught at 70 to 90 feet. Schools of sardines and cigar minnows are blanketing the bottom, luring these migratory bottom-dwellers.

Some of the red grouper were impressive in size. These bigger reds, often referred to as "fire trucks," weighed 15 pounds. The gag grouper averaged a modest 8 pounds.

The bait schools were located in 100 feet of water two weeks ago, when we started to catch a few nice-sized reds and gags. Each day the schools moved east. By Friday, we found large groups of sardines in the 75-foot depths. Accompanying them were the big, hungry groupers. With the limit on reds at one per person, our quota was met with ease. Expect the gag groupers to follow the bait schools into shallower depths by this week. By the end of this month we should be able to catch some nice-sized fish at 40 feet.

We caught a few kingfish while grouper fishing. Jigging up a sardine then tossing it out on a free-lined rig attracted these migrating mackerels. They will arrive in great numbers this week.

Spanish mackerel are due west of our passes. The farther you travel, the bigger the fish. We caught several 5-pounders at the artificial reefs. The Rube Allen was the busiest structure. Three fish hooked at a time was not uncommon when trolling through the massive schools of small minnows that smothered the entire reef structure.

Keep an eye on the bottom machine. This will let you detect the migration of bait as it heads east. Numerous types of predator fish will be close behind.

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