By DAVE MISTRETTA
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 2, 2001
Grouper fishing remains spotty. One day the fish are cooperative and the next they can't be found. This is typical for this time of year so don't get discouraged. There are other options. Barracuda are abundant on all the offshore wrecks and willing to take an offering. How about the attack of a giant kingfish? A few stragglers can be taken on many offshore spots. Reports this week come from anglers fishing depths of 80 feet and deeper. This is a reason to throw out a flat line while grouper digging. Line screaming off a reel at 30 mph can turn a slow day of bottom fishing into one large fish story.
Veteran angler Ken Orthner got a 30-plus pounder in hard-bottom areas 20 miles west of Clearwater. He attributes his kingfish landings to cigar minnows and Spanish sardines that have settled on the same grouper bottom he fishes.
Kings are not the only pelagic that will grab a baited hook at these depths. Small chicken dolphin, barracuda, blackfin tuna, cobia and an occasional sailfish can be found.
- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail email@example.com.