© St. Petersburg Times, published December 4, 2001
Blackfin tuna, amberjack, kingfish and grouper are plentiful now. We took advantage of the nice weather last week and worked a freshwater spring about 50 miles offshore. The amberjacks were cooperative and we were able to boat several in the mid-30s. They quit feeding after about one hour so we moved on to grouper.
Our best results were in 65-75 feet; live bait seemed to work best. We started the morning by netting all the threadfin and shad we would need for the day. But during the trip offshore we traveled through some red tide and lost a good portion of our live bait.
Wednesday, my friend Cabo Joe (he owns and runs a 31-footer) caught enough blackfin tuna to cause sore arms. He found a shrimp boat anchored in 90 feet. While they had to work through several bonitos to get the blackfin, the bite lasted until 2 p.m. The bait of choice was live Spanish sardines.
Clearwater hard bottom just off Sand Key is producing great kingfish. Threadfins and blue runners for bait are producing kings but the bait of choice has been live shad.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.