Team Cobia 7/6/18 Middle Grounds Report
After departing Tarpons Springs at 0645, we headed out. With a gentle 5-8 knot wind out of the SE, we averaged 38-40 mph on our run out to the middle grounds from Tarpon and arrived after only 2 hours and 10 minutes of travel. The weather called for isolated thunderstorms offshore and scattered t-storms near shore. The term isolated is the best you can reasonably hope for this time of year, during the summer FL monsoon. In fact, for this trip as the previous two trips, the offshore weather had been very tranquil. While flying out in with clear skies and calm seas, we witnessed about 20 to 40 miles north of us an impressive, sizeable t-cell with a dark red core. This cell was on the north side of Hernando county, but still we could see a large, long lived water spout on the back side of it. It is times like these wished I carried a high quality digital camera with a telescopic lense. Upon arrival, a line of t-storms sitting approximately over the Elbow, south of the grounds formed up and began to really kick up the wind.
These cells, even though they were stationary and we could escape either to the west or north, had me concerned. Seas now became 3-4 feet out of the south and caused a fast drift to the north while the tide was going south, thus not making it easy for our baits to stay in contact with the bottom. It is so true the saying, that each and every trip is different. Even though the skies were clear immediately overhead, anchoring was out of the question. I told the crew, we are going to retreat north deeper into the top side or north side of the grounds to give us some time for I knew these red cells could not last forever. Before we moved, Bob hooked up on a live pin what we had thought was going to be the 1st grouper of the day. But the fight lasted a while and after a few minutes, we knew it was not a grouper but a sizeable brown reef shark. See video below:
The cells did collapse, but the process took an hour an even after my Sirius Marine weather showed the red cores as having changed to orange and yellow, the line of cells was still generating plenty of wind only because they were in-line together. By 11am, the last signs of the storms were gone and conditions returned to calm. However, we were now at ebb tide and the bite was slow. It seemed for an hour the only thing coming over the railing besides Atlantic Sharpnose sharks and small red groupers where an occasional knob headed porgy.
By 2pm in the afternoon we only had 8 ARS and a half dozen porgies in the fish box, so I decided to say “reel them up” because we are going to a different spot to try something different. We ran about 8 miles to the SE to more of the middle section of the grounds and we made a drift over a ledge I wanted to try. The drift produced a keeper read grouper and ARS. We had chum on board and I did not bring that chum out just to bring it back, so we anchored on the south side of a ledge. We now had the tide and a gentle breeze in agreement, so was able to anchor correctly the 1st time. On this ledge we pulled some grouper up with artificial. See the video below:
While the day’s overall action was slow but steady, we had a with a strong 8th and 9th inning rally. We left a hot mango bite to get back. The strongest tide of the day was the late afternoon incoming. We came home with a limit of ARS of two fish apiece, 24 mangos, 5 Gag, 5 Red Groupers, 4 large Vermillion, and about a dozen nice knob headed and red porgies. With a mere 5 knot breeze out of the south, the ride in was easy and the good Lord removed all thunderheads between us and Anclote. THe noteable catches of the day included Blace's 20 inch scamp, a 33 inch gag, and Bob's 26 inch ARS.
Weather and conditions permitting, going to go out again 14 July. Let me know if you are interested.Cobia Ken,