Offshore SRQ October 18 and 20

We have spent the last few months fishing the Venice area so thought we'd change things up and fish due west out of SRQ. October 18th was an absolutely perfect day with limited wind and calm seas. We started at about 105 feet to try to hook up with some AJ's. The fishfinder looked great with nice bottom and we were marking plenty of fish, but there were no takers. There were other boats near us who also failed to bring in any fish. Headed deeper to 120-135 to look for some grouper. The bottom machine didn't look overly impressive- not much in the way of hard bottom and we didn't mark any great looking shows of fish. Nonetheless we drifted the area and did very well, bringing in 14 keeper red grouper, as well a few more that could have kept but were barely over 20 so we let them live to fight another day. In addition to the grouper we caught a fair number of lane snapper and a few really nice ARS, which were released safely.

October 20 brought much different conditions. The reports called for 2 foot seas but when we showed up at New Pass bait shop, the winds were howling and "Jack Black" informed us that the charters had all cancelled due to inclement weather. Since we live out of state we dont have the luxury of picking our days to fish, so we decided to give it a shot. The seas were pretty brutal going out, but not unmanageable or unsafe. 2 foot seas were more like 4s with a few bigger ones thrown in the mix. Due to the seas making it difficult to get out deep, we decided to fish some nice hard bottom areas in 50-55 feet. We managed to land 5 keeper groupers, 2 nice gags and 3 reds which were in the 21-22 inch range. We also caught plenty of grunts and several nice looking (short) scamps. The bite was hot for the first hour or two and then it died off. Since we had plenty of fish already, we decided to head in early and call it a day.

Overall, we had 2 really nice days with great fishing and great comraderie. The two most surprising things about the trip was (1) how many short RGs we caught 45+miles out, and (2) how bad the quality of the spanish sardines was that we got from New Pass. They used to sell them in a box but now they are in a large plastic bag and the bait are all freezer burned. They were extremely mushy and wouldn't stay on the hook- didn't really catch much with the sardines as compared to the old brand that came in the box. If anyone has ideas on a better place to buy dead bait I would appreciate it.

Here are a couple pics from the trip.


  • mullet manmullet man Posts: 2 Greenhorn
    Ran into the same problem with the sardines. Picked up two bags from Fishin Frank's in PC on the 18th. Frank has always had excellent bait. Just like you said, the ones in the box were great, the ones in the bag are @%#*! Robert at Frank's said that they are unable to get the dines in the box right now. Robert did sell me on a box of tinker mackeral. They are alittle bigger than the dines but cut them in half and they made a good bait and stayed on the hook.
  • perlman1234perlman1234 Posts: 1,449 Officer
    Man I blackened and grilled some gag w/ fillet, bbq shrimp and grouper cheek kabobs last night. It was amazing... I love the ice slurry before and after technique. Great fish, great company, and great banter. Only thing this trip needs are more pics of myself:dance
  • RMDRMD Posts: 1,796 Officer
    Yeah you were too busy catching to pose for a pic....I only took 2 pics the whole time. That other one came from Tony
  • Feeding FrenzyFeeding Frenzy Posts: 247 Officer
    There has a major shortage of sardines for about the last 3 weeks. Improvise, adapt and overcome... Can't lose with bonito. If we don't have some leftover from a previous trip, they can be bought at Mahi Mac's Bait and Tackle in Nokomis. Worth every penny on the longer trips when frozen bait is scarce. Boston mackerel are a very close second, especially when used whole. The biggest gag we caught the other day came on a butterflyied 4 lb bonito and a 20/0 circle hook.
  • perlman1234perlman1234 Posts: 1,449 Officer
    Boston mackerel are actually what I would use over dines. They are larger, stay on the hook better, and in my opinion a much better grouper bait. Problem is I can not find them year round. If I can get my hands on them I will use them 100% over block or bag dines. Problem I have with the bonito sometimes is as it creates that stank that grouper love it is by far one of the best shark baits. So when fishing around structure or any piece of bottom attracting sharks you are screwed. Yeah next time we need to get more pics before we slit their throats and mutilate the fish. Then they are as photogenic as Brian!:grin
  • nuclearfishnnuclearfishn Posts: 8,356 Admiral
    There has a major shortage of sardines for about the last 3 weeks. Improvise, adapt and overcome... Can't lose with bonito. .

    ^^^^^^^this^^^^^^ best cut bait there is.
  • RMDRMD Posts: 1,796 Officer
    We still did great with other baits but the dines were simply wasted money. Last trip i used bonita but all i got was sharks
  • Naples SpearoNaples Spearo Posts: 112 Officer
    ill never pass up grabbing a bonita or two on the way out.... I know the red grouper love them, i cant vouch for the gags tho....True story with the blood though....Anyone ever brine sardines? I hate using them because they come off the hook way too easy.......thoughts?
  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,078 AG
    On good quality deens brining is more of a choice then a necessity. I've done both ways.

    On crappy deens we've brined them and it helps a bit. A couple of tricks I've learned is to brine for at least 12 hours. Keeping the deens cold helps alot too, especially when firing them down, they won't get taken off the hooks as easily. Make sure you cut off the tail and heads when brining.

    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln
Sign In or Register to comment.