Venice Nearshore - past month.
Managed a few nearshore trips this past month. Here's some fish stories....
Day 1 - Had some time to myself and decided to do a little prospecting SW of the inlet. I noticed all the crab pots showing up in recent trips, and I had been wondering what type of structure they were on, so I put out a plug & a planner and trolled the slalom course with one eye on the bottom machine for about an hour. Worked a few lines of pots in 30-45'. Caught 1 Spanish on the clarkspoon, and 1 lizard fish on the plug, (which was entirely comical). More importantly, I had marked a whole bunch of new ledges for myself for later. Out in 45', I had been wondering about a particular wreck that's ~ 6 mi SW of the inlet. I still haven't found any good bait spots yet.... I eased my way over to find it was occupied. So I stashed the sabiki and turned towards a pile of birds. Got close to the commotion, got quite, and let the wind bring me to what was now obviously a Spanish bonanza. Threw a 1/2 paddle tail as far as a could, and Whamo - this was no Spanish... after 5 minutes I saw my first glimpse of a keeper cobia. Was excited, and could already taste him. He took another run or two, and I flipped open the box and pulled the tip off the gaff. A little closer to the boat, I looked down and saw that sneaker on top of his head. Biggest remora I ever saw... Doh! I laughed it off and proceeded to catch all the Spanish I wanted. Was flat calm and I had a football field all to myself for 30 minutes. Feeling satisfied, I left them biting and eased back into the 35' ledges to drop some squid down. Tons of grunts and a few seabass. Enough to tell me that I was indeed on some very active bottom. The Spanish were fun to play with, and the trash-fish taught me something. Plus I learned that remoras grow to at least 38". The day was all about prospecting, and mission complete.
Days 2 & 3 - went offshore to 60-80', will tell those stories another time.
Day 4 - The wife and I made a late-day decision to take a ride. Didn't want to get salt on the boat and it was late, so I knew just the spot - the 35' ledges from Day 1. The wife had never seen fish on top before, so I was excited to show her. Pulled into some birds and had a blast. Big difference this day was that the pods of fish were sporadic and small. Last trip, I drifted with one large school for 30 min. This time, I saw small pods on top only for 5 min each. Was breezy, with much more texture on the water. So we did a little chasing. I was getting tired of re-tying, so I dug out an 8" topwater plug just for fun. First cast, I watch 2 or 3 Spanish blow up on it, but miss each time. Pull the plug to within 20 feet from the boat and stop fishing to give my wife a pointer. I heard it, and she saw it - boosh! Big hole, not a Spanish.... He ripped 30 yds off in about 5 seconds and pulled the hook. Heart skipped a beat and I was genuinely excited/disappointed. I only barely saw in my periphery, which my wife confirmed to be "long and shiny" - could it have been a small tarpon? My wife took the opportunity to teach me; "fish it all the way to the boat", she said. Needless to say, we fished those pods for another hour. She continued to land Spanish on every-other cast, while I insisted on replicating the mystery strike - to no avail. After that, we tried those 35' ledges again. Her with squid and me with live pinfish. Took me 3 bite-offs to realize I was in shark-city. I tried a few spots and everything was sharky. The wife caught a mixed bag with the squid and had a blast.
So those are my incredible tales of nearshore fishing this month. I might give it another whirl this weekend. A ton of trash fish, BUT: I've got myself a little day-saver for when I strike out as well as a crowd pleaser for rookie guests. Easy fishing and a variety - it's fun if you like fishing (also if you like cutting bait). I'm seriously impressed with the amount and magnitude of structure in this area (3-6 mi SW of Venice) - it's everywhere!
Now I just need to figure out how to weed through those sharks and grunts - there must be gags and keeper snapper here, just gotta be. Will let you know if I find them :-)