Just before I left my house I saw an update on the Red Tide. It appeared to be growing in the Tampa Bay area. I was pleased to see that it didn’t appear to be in the back waters I bait fished in. When I got to the dock I heard there was some evidence near shore of Red Tide. I was concerned I might lose bait on the way out. Sure, enough with in the 3 – 5-mile offshore range I began to see dead fish. All of them appeared to be Pig Fish. I did lose a dozen or so Pig Fish in my live well but many survived as did all the Pin Fish.
Once past the initial kill zone I saw no more evidence of Red Tide and there was no impact in the areas we fished. I hope the storm Gordon will dissipate the nutrients and no further damage will be done. We all must stand up for water quality and demand better of our leaders.
Trolling on the way out was OK as several Kings and Spanish came over the rail. Trolling between spots was slow but one King in the 20 LB range was landed. I think the trolling will be spotty until the water temp begins to drop.
We started in good conditions with a moderate chop. On the very first bait I dropped I got slammed and landed a small but legal Mutton Snapper. After picking a few Mangrove Snapper I was still fishing with Threadfin and BANG! Fish ON! Turned out to be a Gag in the 12 LB range. I quickly changed my frayed leader and dropped down another and before I could tighten my line SLAM BAM! Another Gag on. I landed a decent one in the 15 LB. range. After a few more Mangos the bite slowed down. I lifted up on my rod to make sure I still had bait and BANG! Another Gag on! This one appeared bigger than the first two. After a few tense moments I turned the fish and began steady cranking it in. Just when I thought I’d see color “He Gone!” Couple of cranks and I saw my hooks were gone and it appeared the Grouper had swallowed the hooks to the point his teeth ground through my leader. Just goes to show, you don’t have them till they are over the rail.
First stop Two Gags and a Mutton. I was excited to say the least. I wish I could say it got better but I peaked on the first stop. Overall, I had a decent trip but I never hooked another Gag and only picked at the Mangos. The AJ bite was decent but not hot like it was last week.
The primary reason the bite was a challenge I believe was directly related to a current that seemed to get stronger as the trip wore on. It got so bad that even a 16 oz sinker wouldn’t hold. Tip: When the current is screaming the best way to deal with it is use a heavy lead and live bait. I like live bait because it is hard to feel small bites on dead bait and live is more likely to attract big fish. I saw this work with two different rigs. I put down a big live bait with a 16 oz sinker and eventually got hit and landed a keeper AJ. My friend and legend ‘Jig Head” Ed was using a 2 LB cannonball bank sinker attached to a 3- way swivel. He ended up catching the Jack Pot AJ just over 50 LBS.
Time to head home and make the adjustment to the Boat being in dry dock for 6 weeks. I hope to make a few of the specialty trips between now and then so I can keep the reports coming. I’ll keep you posted.
See You Out There!