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Want great action? Try offshore

By LARRY HOFFMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 17, 2000


Offshore fishing dominates our coast this time of year. Sam Maisano and son Joey were fishing in 150 feet of water southwest of John's Pass and caught a half-dozen blackfin tuna, some dolphin in the mid-20s and a sailfish estimated at 50 pounds. They released the sailfish and informed me they were live-baiting for kingfish using Spanish sardines and threadfins.

Kingfish and Spanish mackerel are still plentiful along our coast. The Egmont Channel markers 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 are holding good numbers of kingfish along with the Tramp Steamer and the Rube Allen. Capt. Darrell Parchman reports they are doing very well trolling for kings using hardware. They have changed their normal tactics, however, and are using smaller spoons and only 30-pound test line to increase the bite. The Redington Long Pier also has reports of kingfish and Spanish mackerel.

Grouper and snapper fishing is exceptional in 40-65 feet of water. This weekend should be an excellent grouper bite, just coming off the full moon. Check your solunar tables and make sure you are fishing during the major and minor periods. Live bait seems to produce the biggest fish this time of year. Start each new fishing area with frozen sardines and squid. Switch to live bait after the bite slows. Ledges and hard bottom areas are holding good numbers of gag grouper. Remember the gags and black grouper must be 22 inches.

Amberjack have moved inshore and can be targeted using live blue runners and diamond-type jigs. Most of our offshore shipwrecks and springs are holding good numbers of 'jacks. Start looking for 'jacks at 80 feet and deeper. While fishing last week we were having trouble catching kingfish because of the 'jacks and barracuda.

If you want to catch a barracuda, now is the time of year. Every reef and shipwreck is stacked with barracudas. A large blue runner is almost a sure thing. Use wire leaders and a single treble hook through the blue runner's nose and look for a jumping fish. Barracudas can be great sport and will put on an aerial display when hooked. Large 'cudas should not be eaten.

-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.

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