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Heading offshore from Cape Coral

My boys and I have fished Belton Johnson and other near shore reefs and would like to head well offshore in search of some larger Grouper / Amberjacks / Tuna depending on the season etc.

I have a capable boat, EBIRB, life raft, and 10 years offshore experience in the Great Lakes, 2 in the Gulf, not a big risk taker with the weather so feel I am reasonable ready to head out "a ways".

Not looking for anyone's numbers, but would appreciate advice on how far offshore to run before starting to drop / look for "my own" spots. Don't want to waste a bunch of time at 60' if the action is 100' and visa versa.

Biggest challenge for me is I come to The Cape for a week or two at a time from Michigan so I don't have a lot of time to talk to other fisherman to find out what is biting / where.

Thanks all in advance for any counsel.


  • RMDRMD Posts: 1,796 Officer
    As a general rule, the deeper the better. I don't fish down that far south, but up near Sarasota, I like to get out past 100 FOW if at all possible. You can always catch fish closer in, but the deeper areas likely see less fishing pressure and I tend to catch higher numbers of fish on a more consistent basis out deeper. I like to fish between 100-120 during February and March (grouper open inside 120). I like to fish 100-140 all other months, except in June when ARS is open. Once we get past 140 we tend to catch a lot of ARS and it kills me to catch and release all of those fish - even when properly vented many of them will die. So we stay out of ARS territory on the 356 days when ARS is closed.

    Take/make the time to build relationships in the area and you will gain plenty of local friends who will help you out with the area.
  • teamfiveteamfive Posts: 93 Greenhorn
    I grew up fishing the great Lakes also. Still do. I get to venice 2,3 times a year much like yourself to fish for 10 days or about. You came to the right place to get info, there hasn't been much lately. Withe bad wind. I'm headed south thursday. Do your research online find the deeper public wrecks and numbers that may hold amberjack.100fow.or so. I've never had a problem running around finding grouper.its allot easier when you can drift and find hungry fish then anchor up on them .good luck !
  • whipachawwhipachaw Posts: 505 Officer
    Run out to the desired depth. I concur with the 100 fow+ but I have SLAYED fish in 60. It all depends on where the fish are happy. Out of Boca Grande or Redfish pass you will get deeper quicker. For example. At a 240 to 270 heading off the lighthouse on Sanibel, at 40 miles, you are only in about 80 feet of water or so. At a 270 out of Boca, your in 100 to 110 feet. Bring a marker jug. The cheap way is a Clorox or laundry detergent bottle (Something with color is nice) with masonry string and 10 oz sinker. This is a pricey, but it kicks butt and I highly recommend them. http://www.suremarker.com/

    Start a drift, drop the light gear down with shrimp or squid on 1/0 circle hooks and 4 oz sinker. If you catch a sand perch or other sand bottom fish, you can load up on them for bait and keep drifting till you get a snapper or other hard bottom fish. Once you do get a snapper or other hard bottom fish, you are on hard bottom. Toss the jug and make drifts all around the jug. Start fishing the grouper stuff once you know you are on hard bottom. As you drift over the good bottom, you usually will drift off of it and start catching sand bottom fish again. Pull up and move back on the jug so that the drift ends up a bit different. If you catch nothing but shorts, I usually make another short move and start the process again. Mark your hard bottom spots even if its all shorts. Things may be different on another day and once you have hard bottom on your machine, you will spend less time searching for it. When you do get on hard bottom, take note of your depth finder and what the bottom looks like versus when you are on sand bottom. Having someone always down with a shrimp or piece of squid will keep a constant update as to whether or not you are on good bottom. Sometimes you can be on good bottom, but the grouper aren't biting or aren't there, but the snapper bite will be going. Catch snapper, hard bottom, Sand Perch, sand bottom. While you drift, keep a free lined bait like a frozen sardine, live blue runner, live pinfish or white bait out on a medium to heavy spinner. This will be your ticket to Kings, Bonito, Shark and other pelagic fish. If you anchor, put that same bait out with a balloon to keep it from sinking to the bottom. I hope this helps and good luck.
  • whipachawwhipachaw Posts: 505 Officer
    On a side note, as far as I can tell, the ledges run in a northish southish direction.
  • winterbeater89winterbeater89 Posts: 50 Greenhorn
    Thank you again to all that have responded. I am going to try to get out this coming week and will post some pictures if we have success!
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