OFFSHORE questions & answer section for depths 30 feet and out. FAQ's

24

Replies

  • SalmononeSalmonone Posts: 71 Deckhand
    I am hoping to do a middle grounds trip this summer. My best estimate on the range of my boat is 233 miles if I burn every drop in the tank. I will be paying close attention to fuel mileage throughout the spring in hopes of getting a strong estimate for my range. Leaving Cedar Key would this be enough range? Is it even close where I might be able to get a fuel bladder to extend my range?

    Thanks for all the great information!!
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    What kind of boat do you have and what's the fuel capacity?

    Using the third rule if 233 is your range I wouldn't go farther than 70 out. You won't be able to use about 5% of what's in your tank. You can push it farther but I would suggest getting a few trips under your belt first. If it's something you're serious about getting into than a range extension bladder will be your best option.
  • No-limitsNo-limits Posts: 54 Deckhand
    You need at least a 300 mile range to safely fish the grounds. I know guys that will push there luck but it will bite you eventually. Your gonna be loaded heavier than normal going out & hopefully heavier with fish coming in. A slight miss cue on the forecast & your plowing along burning more fuel than expected

    I could go on & on but the farther out you are the greater margin of error you should plan for.
  • SalmononeSalmonone Posts: 71 Deckhand
    last thing I want to do is push my luck out there. Boat is a 23' keywest with a fuel injected 225hp two stroke yami. Holds 140 gallons. Right now I think I'm getting around 1.75 miles to the gallon but that is only a rough estimate.
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    Okay, here's how I plan a trip. If you average 1.75 I'll figure my routes and total mileage at a 1.5 mpg average to account for errors. You can't use approximately 5% of what's in your tank.
    So 140 - 5% = 133 usable gallons
    133 x 1.5 is 199.5 total miles, call it 200
    200 / 3 = 67 out 67 in 67 reserve miles
    This won't put you in the grounds safely but there is good bottom within your range. If you are serious about fishing the grounds or long range trips in general than I would buy a fuel bladder. A 25 gallon bladder will get 38 more miles total so almost 13 each leg. A 50 will add 75 total and 25 each leg. The 50 will allow you to fish beyond the average range and where bigger fish live due to lower pressure from recreational anglers.

    If you're interested in a bladder pm me and I can put you in contact with the right people.

    Also there's a few items I consider a must have. An EPIRB, sat phone, PLB and possible a life raft if you can afford one. You can rent a sat phone but the prices are down on them so it's not too bad to buy your own. You will be out of effective range of VHF and often times I'll fish for two days and not see a boat out deep. The middlegrounds usually will have a few boats scattered around though.
  • TW22TW22 Posts: 37 Deckhand
    Is 23 feet big enough of a boat to make the trip? Don't get me wrong, I've been in 6-8 foot seas in a 20 foot center console after getting caught, but not 70-100 miles out.... I know there's a guy who will make the run to the middle grounds from CK in his Pathfinder (seen him at the dock with an electric reel) I've even seen flats boats 30 miles out... but at some point you have to really weight the risk versus reward.

    I guess with a fuel bladder, SAT phone and a life raft I might try it. :)
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    A 23' deep vee that is well maintained and properly outfitted is probably as small a boat as I'd feel comfortable making that run in. In all reality 30 miles is just as dangerous as 60. If you look through coast gaurd reports for our area the majority of recreational boats that go down do so well inside of 30 miles. Being as prepared as possible and having reliable equipment are very important. Also not being afraid to call a trip off is very important. I've called trips a lot and came in during the night on an overnighter because I didn't like the weather. No fish is worth dying for and as the captain you are responsible for all souls on board.

    That being said, I would have no problem running a 23' boat to the grounds or well beyond. As long as I knew the boat well and had all of my safety gear in order along with the right weather window. Lots of people do it in that sized boat and I've seen or heard of lots smaller.
  • jimmy77jimmy77 Posts: 1,690 Captain
    Looking for a good resource to find public GPS number in Citrus County. I'm planning a trip in July and renting a house on the Homosassa River. It looks like it's a 19 mile run from the mouth of the river to 30' using the Navionics site. http://webapp.navionics.com/?lang=en The nearest artificial reef appears to be about 14 miles but is only 15'.

    The Citrus county site shows 3 reefs. http://www.bocc.citrus.fl.us/pubworks/aquatics/art_reefs/fish_haven.htm Fish Haven #1 looks to at 20 miles. I'll be running solo likely and not taking my 8 year old on this long run. How is the shallow water grouper fishing? Is it worth it to make this run or are there closer numbers? Alternatively I could stay inshore and search for reds, trout and snook.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • TW22TW22 Posts: 37 Deckhand
    Try these if you don't already have them:
    http://myfwc.com/media/131585/reefs.pdf
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    The county lists will have all of the reefs on them. You may want to try the capt seagull charts or fl sportsman charts, they have reef numbers as well as some of the well known areas on them.

    Another alternative is to hire a guide to go with you on your boat. Not all guides will do this but a lot do and it's pretty reasonable price wise.
    This route would give you someone to fish with for the day and really shorten your learning curve.
  • jimmy77jimmy77 Posts: 1,690 Captain
    The county lists will have all of the reefs on them. You may want to try the capt seagull charts or fl sportsman charts, they have reef numbers as well as some of the well known areas on them.

    Another alternative is to hire a guide to go with you on your boat. Not all guides will do this but a lot do and it's pretty reasonable price wise.
    This route would give you someone to fish with for the day and really shorten your learning curve.

    That's an option. Have any recommendations? You could PM me if you prefer...
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,247 Captain
    You really don't need a guide for near shore fishing off of CR and Homosassa. There are so many rocks in the zone between 20-35 feet that you can't miss finding good bottom. Just troll diving plugs at 5-7 mph and you'll catch plenty of gags and mackerel in July. Mark the rocks you find with your bottom machine while trolling and go back and bottom fish if you like. Natural bottom is much better than the artificial reefs. You have about a 15-20 mile run from marker #4 in the Homosassa channel to get to these depths. The bite tends to be early in July but you can pick away at them during the day if you drop live bait right on top of the rocks.

    This zone was not damaged by the red tide last summer. If you run deeper than 40 ft, you'll run into dead zones.
  • jimmy77jimmy77 Posts: 1,690 Captain
    You really don't need a guide for near shore fishing off of CR and Homosassa. There are so many rocks in the zone between 20-35 feet that you can't miss finding good bottom. Just troll diving plugs at 5-7 mph and you'll catch plenty of gags and mackerel in July. Mark the rocks you find with your bottom machine while trolling and go back and bottom fish if you like. Natural bottom is much better than the artificial reefs. You have about a 15-20 mile run from marker #4 in the Homosassa channel to get to these depths. The bite tends to be early in July but you can pick away at them during the day if you drop live bait right on top of the rocks.

    This zone was not damaged by the red tide last summer. If you run deeper than 40 ft, you'll run into dead zones.

    Thank you sir! I've got an offshore bag full of Mann's plugs. We're trying to get there right after the 4th of July so may be perfect timing.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    Doc gave you some good advice, he's a lot more familiar with the shallow water fishing down that way. If you still might want to try the guide route then I would give Dan Clymer a call (352) 418-2160 I'm sure he can get you pointed in the right direction.
  • TW22TW22 Posts: 37 Deckhand
    Doc,

    What is a dead zone? (not trying to be smart) I was just catching red grouper this week in 43-50 feet. Nice size too.
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    He's referring to areas killed by the red tide. These aren't as bad or as expanse as a lot of folks were speculating. The red tide did have some affects on our area, but the fish are back in a lot of spots and will be back in others shortly.

    Good job on the reds too btw
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,247 Captain
    There are large area off of Citrus and Hernando Counties where the bottom became anoxic during the red tide. Much of the soft corals and bottom life were killed. That zone starts at about 50 ft and extends out to at least 80 ft. There are patchy dead areas between 45 and 50 ft and some live spots out deeper. The area west of Cedar Key has a lot of dead zones even closer in. It will take a few years for these dead areas to recover since there is little for fish to eat. The grazing species will re-colonize the dead areas by late summer, but it will take a few years for the food chain to fully recover.
  • TW22TW22 Posts: 37 Deckhand
    Thanks Doc. Interesting.

    Top contender what's your experience/technique with jiging for grouper?

    I bought a Williamson "high speed" style jig and can't seem to score on it. I know there's grouper because I'll catch them on my bucktail or with bait...but would love to figure out this high speed jigging game. Am I too shallow for it to be effective?
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    I've jigged them on the speed jigs in as shallow as 30' I never had much luck with the williamsons though. My best experience has been with shimano butterfly jigs or just good old diamond jigs. I vary my retrieve until I get a response, for grouper I generally try to work the bottom 20% of the water column. Some days a jig will out fish other methods, some days it gets no love. If you are seeing grouper on the machine and getting no bites or not what you expect, sometimes a jig can fire em up like a live bait.

    Here's a gag I caught in 180' on an old diamond jig and a spinning outfit. I was holding the boat with the motors and felt like the guys should be catching more than what was coming up, sent it down and he jumped on it. That fish weighed 25lbs
  • TW22TW22 Posts: 37 Deckhand
    I'll give it try with a different style. Thanks.
  • Fast AttackFast Attack Posts: 28 Greenhorn
    How far offshore are you catching Red Grouper right now?
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    I've caught some as shallow as 42' off suwannee and cedar key, the majority have come from 115-220' . There was still a good amount of fish with roe 2 weeks ago but they should be done with their spawning now. It's been a little funky even out deep with just pockets of fish. If you find bottom with life you should find some fish, there's a lot that's in rebuild mode right now though. I do know that they have been having an absolute banner year south of us with lots of fish coming out of the ditch off St pete and everywhere south. The commercial guys are killing it down there. Up here it's hit or miss, some guys are getting 20-30 fish stops and some are getting single digits. May is usually a transition month anyways so hopefully everything will settle in soon.

    Best advice I can give, if you are limited on range it's gonna be a ride and search kinda day, you may hit them you may not. If you can get deep I'd work 120'-160', look for and follow the bait, the fish are on the bait.
  • Fast AttackFast Attack Posts: 28 Greenhorn
    Thanks. My range limits me to probably to 60 feet or less, so I'm no where near your general area, but was just curious as to what you were seeing.
  • bonebone Posts: 1,065 Officer
    I've fished over 20 areas that produced good to great grouper fishing 1 year ago in 40-60 feet and managed two short red grouper the last 2 months off Ck and CR. so don't waste your time yet. Go mahi fishing off port canaveral or Stuart instead right now.
  • Fast AttackFast Attack Posts: 28 Greenhorn
    That's an awesome idea... never even considered it. How far of a drive is it to Canaveral and then how far of a run is it to the Gulf Stream or wherever you are hooking up with fins? I only have a single engine bay boat with a 55 gallon tank. I normally put in at Saint Augustine when I fish that side, but would definitely consider running further south if the ride out was shorter.
  • Salty Dawg44Salty Dawg44 Homosassa, FLPosts: 839 Officer
    That's an awesome idea... never even considered it. How far of a drive is it to Canaveral and then how far of a run is it to the Gulf Stream or wherever you are hooking up with fins? I only have a single engine bay boat with a 55 gallon tank. I normally put in at Saint Augustine when I fish that side, but would definitely consider running further south if the ride out was shorter.

    From the cut at Canaveral, to 200' is 27nm. That's just a bit more than half of the distance to that depth from St Augustine.

    MY WORST FEAR......THAT WHEN I DIE MY WIFE WILL SELL ALL MY BOATS & FISHING GEAR FOR WHAT I TOLD HER I PAID FOR IT.......

    I may not always agree with what you say,
    but I will always respect your right to be wrong!
  • Reel UmReel Um Posts: 260 Officer
    I am finally getting back out after 6 months of neglect to my boat. I purchased a pre owned boat and getting things to the way I feel safe to go back to middle grounds. Been going since 2005

    My numbers are mostly in 60-65 ft and was tried it out a few weeks ago. That ares is wiped out by red tide. I caught 2 grunts and 2 black bass.

    Guess I will after 10 yrs of fishing to start looking for numbers closer to shore up to 35 ft. I was thinking about trolling deep divers and then track back to try ledge/rock. I'll let my 10 yr old son drive so he will be interested as well. Trying to get him some sea legs right now.

    Any suggestions for finding new numbers or to get my son sea legs to do 60 ft fishing or MG??
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    You have a couple of options for finding productive bottom in shallow water. Probably the best route is to get a bathy or depth contour chart and look for broken irregular bottom. If the waters clear you can just look for the dark patches of rock in that depth or the ol faithful method of blind trolling and staring at your machine.

    I would think if you could get a few trips in shallow with your son and keep working out as you are both more comfortable he could be ready for a mg trip fairly quick. Everybody is different though and you know him better than anyone. There's plenty of fish in the grounds right now, I fished there Saturday. As far as shallow water goes I don't have a clue, I haven't fished inside of 100' in a while.
  • MikeRMikeR Posts: 39 Greenhorn
    Hey Top Contender thanks for the good info. Just curious what your thoughts are on the moon impact to off shore fishing. Do you think the full moon impacts the day time grouper bite? Went last week during the full moon to places that I killed it last year and the grouper bite was really bad.
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 590 Officer
    The day time bite last week was horrible, from 100'-400' they just weren't feeding. Aside from a few scamp yellowmouth and porgy we had no bites during the day. Night time it was game on for grouper and mangrove snapper. General rule of thumb is 5 days before and 3 days after the full moon is your window to hit the nighttime bite. I've had some stellar daytime bites on a full moon and I've struck out, not sure what causes which scenerio though. As far as the moon goes I think the fishing is better when the moon is filling, and I pay attention to the so lunar tables. If you have a glory spot to hit, do it on the feed.
Sign In or Register to comment.