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Marco Bait and Fishing Questions

What's the best way to get bait out of Big Marco Pass in late May early June? I have a pinfish trap but didn't get much at the marina dock. We usually go out 5-10 miles and sabiki biat, along with frozen sardines/squid. Would be nice to be able to cast net some bait in stead of burning an hour to sabiki it.

We usually fish in the 25-30 mile range on live bottom to get red grouper, and hit the tower now and again to see what's over there. Are there any black grouper out there? Would they be on the wrecks?

We found drifting over the bottom works really well for red grouper but some days the drift is just too fast. What's a good way to slow down the drift?


P.S. Has anyone tried sidescan sonar out there and if so how well does it do?


  • TarpoonTarpoon Posts: 61 Deckhand
    Why don't you just throw a big heavy deepwater net instead of using the sabiki? Bait is on the beaches that time of year as well. Use a drift sock to slow it down. Pinfish traps are best used on a sandy bottom near a grass flat. That said I know people get a lot off their docks on Marco.

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  • If'n I 'm mainly Grouper fishing I don't throw for bait.
    Run out to the Drop Zone and put out 2 Grouper Rods and 2 Sabiki Rigs with Squid. You'll catch all the bait you want right there.
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • TarpoonTarpoon Posts: 61 Deckhand
    TRT. I thought you and the ladies chunked up tarpon for bait while fishing for Grouper in bikinis until the moon came up!

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  • FLTXhunterFLTXhunter Posts: 516 Officer
    There just isn't much bait that you can net around Big marco pass because its pretty spread out. The beaches will hold some bait, but it is small that time of year. Sometimes you can find some bait pods around the beacons on the way out, but it is hit or miss. Sabiking takes time, but it works and the baits are usually good sized. Good suggestion above to sabiki over the grouper bottom too. There just don't seem to be enough pinfish around this area anymore to go for them with traps. Back when the Cape had good healthy grass, there were all the pins you needed. No longer.
    As for black grouper, I've never caught one out there. There are some gags though and of course the occasional cobia and kingfish that'll pick up a bait bound for the Grouper bottom. If you can sabiki or use small shrimp to catch some good sized blue runners, throw one out under a balloon or cork and let it do its thing while you are prospecting grouper. We've had some insane kingfish bites doing this. (Don't forget the stinger hook or the bite will be fast and you'll reel in just a runner head). Good luck..
  • LostTackleLostTackle Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    So I've been pouring through the regulations and it looks like red snapper will open on June, 1 2015. Are there any out off of Marco, if so what depth's/structure styles do they like to hang around?
  • snookerf150snookerf150 Posts: 298 Officer
    Bout 60 miles out. Good luck. ARS is not worth it IMHO. I'd much rather eat mangos or red grouper at the 20 mi range at a 1/3of the fuel cost
  • Baja280Baja280 Posts: 440 Deckhand
    60 miles is worth every penny over 20 miles, red snapper or not 60 beats 20 any day
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  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 12,268 AG
    Do 96 Miles and spend the night in Key West.
    Then do 10 miles South in the morning and catch REAL Fish..:fishing :grin
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • LostTackleLostTackle Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    Baja280 wrote: »
    60 miles is worth every penny over 20 miles, red snapper or not 60 beats 20 any day

    That's a huge blanket statement. Please give some examples why it would be better (I.E. other species, bigger fish). I'll have to check if there are any public reefs out that far, so I'm not searching for bottom all day, or is there a lot of hard bottom out there? It's a lot easier to make that kind of trip with at least a known fishing spot than to hope to find something randomly.
  • Baja280Baja280 Posts: 440 Deckhand
    ive personally never fished off marco, I fish out of Anna Maria Island, but I do know that when we run 100 miles, we go southwest and basically end up 70miles off Englewood or further south. if you have a quality bottom machine paired with a good transducer, you should have NO problem finding bait schools, fish shows, hard bottom, ledges. My advice would be to head to known springs out deep, and search in between. My examples of further offshore include everything from deep water grouper, Kitty mitchels, warsaws, big blacks, big gags to tunas, wahoo, dolphin, monster ajs and snappers. Our last deep trip yielded 15lb kitty Mitchel, 12lb scamps,25lb red snappers, 26lb tunas, 35lb gag grouper, 75lb ajs, its just another world out there, we call it Jurassic Park. But ya never know, this is fishing,ya could end up fishing instead of catching. you won't get good spots until you put your time and effort into finding them, look at a bottom map, look for known springs and check depressions and you will find fish.
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