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Deep water holds plenty of big fish

By LARRY HOFFMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 2000


Blue water fishing will continue to be hot this month. The tropical low pressure working its way across the Gulf of Mexico should cool the water temperature a degree or two. Any change in weather conditions normally turns the fish to aggressive feeding patterns after the bad weather.

The key to successful blue water fishing is locating tide rips, weed lines, flotsam and feeding birds. The biggest dolphin caught on the Enterprise was just under 50 pounds, found swimming under a floating 5-gallon bucket.

We take binoculars offshore and have one person constantly checking the horizon, looking for color changes, leaping fish or something else out of the norm. We troll at 7.5 to 9 knots, fishing five rods and using one or two teasers to add action to the water surface.

My favorite color combinations for dolphin are pink and silver or green and yellow; for tuna and wahoo, black and purple or green and black. Other colors produce good results, but these have proven to be the most consistent. If you don't feel comfortable going 70 to 120 miles offshore by yourself, look for the blue water tournaments this month and you can be offshore with a dozen other boats.

Grouper fishing has been strong in 85 to 120 feet. Capt. Darrel Parchman reports catching up to 20 keeper-size red and gag grouper this week in 85 to 95 feet. Parchman said it's best over hard bottom.

Live bait has produced the biggest grouper, but you should start each spot with frozen squid or sardines to get the grouper chewing.

Amberjack can be found over springs and shipwrecks in 100 to 130 feet. I like fishing springs because, in addition to amberjack, you can catch mangrove snapper, yellowtail snappers and grouper. Amberjack prefer big live baits, blue runners, large pinfish and squirrelfish. Fifty-pound class tackle with a fighting belt is a must.

Chet Pirkryl from the Redington Long Pier reports pier anglers continue to catch tarpon and good numbers of pompano, redfish, whiting and flounder. At night, they are catching big black drum and a few snook.

- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (727) 430-3474.

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