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Too cool? Not yet

By LARRY HOFFMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000


Cold fronts have started to dominate offshore-fishing tactics and limit the ability to get offshore. The Gulf of Mexico water temperature is in the low 60s. With the cool water, you must change your approach if you want to catch fish.

Some kingfish are still around, as well as Spanish mackerel. Jeff Falandez of the charter boat the Enterprise reports he still is catching limits of kingfish in the 10- to 12-pound range trolling small kingfish spoons behind Nos. 2 and 3 planers. Holding kings are the Tramp Steamer, Betty Rose and Egmont channel markers 5 and 6 out to the Whistler.

This week, we started targeting amberjack, tuna and grouper to ensure a good day of fishing. Amberjack are feeding on live blue-runners, squirrel fish and large pinfish. The bigger the bait you present, the bigger the fish you will catch. Amberjack require 50-pound class tackle with a good drag system on your reels. You can find jacks over most springs and shipwrecks in 80 to 120 feet of water.

Grouper fishing has been hot. Capt. Mike Hubbard, fishing on Team SeaView, caught a half-dozen gags up to 12 pounds in 22 feet of water. Hubbard said the grouper were not shy and readily took frozen sardines and live pinfish. Just about everyone I have talked to this week has been successful catching grouper in 22 to 65 feet of water. Ledges and cheese rock bottom are where you should concentrate your efforts.

Along the beach, Pat Reagan from the Redington Long Pier reports clear water and good catches of black drum, silver trout and big sheepshead. She said the whiting are feeding all day. Pier fishermen are catching whiting up to 3 pounds.

Inshore fishing is strong along the deeper canals in and around Treasure Island and Belleaire Beach. Redfish, snook and sheepshead have been taking live white bait and shrimp. To find fish, look for deeper holes.

Silver trout have been feeding every day near the power plant at Weedon Island. Small quarter-ounce yellow and white jigs have been attracting all the silver trout you want.

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

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