Finally offshore..31 miles west. Mangos, ARS, Gags, Amberjacks....2/21/16

Well we finally had a good day to get offshore. Been doing really well nine miles and in the last few trips but wanted to get back out to a spot where we got some huge flags last time. I talked to a captain on Friday and he said he got some yellow tails so I was hopeful.

Crew was Kiel, myself, the infamous ScottK and a Michigander buddy of my brother named butch.

Headed out around 7:00 in search of some white bait. Running to the piers we have been doing so well at and on the way there were a half dozen "real" captains still getting bait at the skyway so we went and took a look. Didn't really see anything to brag about. They were hunting quite a bit. We threw once or twice but nada. Went to the piers and got a dozen pinfish but no white bait....so we are kind of winging it.

Went out to the pinfish spot and zabiki'd up 50-60 pins, grunts, squirrels in pretty short order and off we go. 31 miles west in about 100 feet of water. Gorgeous day. 10 mph east winds. Get to our spot and there are 2 boats working the area already. Swung by another mark close by but no shows so went back towards the other boats. One guy boogied. Saw a good show and threw the jug. Looking back I was probably closer to the other guy than I should have been. He was drifting but whoever you were, if I was, my apologies. He never said anything and the anchor bearing changed about 25 degrees with the wind change pretty quickly and he was just drifting the area so we never really got too close.

Put the chum block down and was trying some of the fancy snapper up chum that my wife bought for Christmas. That is some interesting stuff. Still not sure it is worth the $18-$20 but might have to explore it more.

We kind of had a tide running kind of northeast and the light winds blowing us so our bow was pointing due east so it was difficult to figure out where to put the chum cage where it would help us.

It was a slow start but we started picking away with some decent mangos. Then the ARS came out to play. We could have easily kept 10 people's limits of ars. Nothing huge but up to probably 22". Most around 16-18" but just a ton of them. We were primarily fishing jigs and knocker rigs with 20 lb leader and cut sardines. Put down a live bait on more of a grouper set up and it was getting hit pretty consistently by undersize ajs or gags.

Fished that spot for probably an hour - hour and a half. The other guy was just drifting the area deepwater jigging going for whatever would bite. He was hooked up a lot. Undersize ajs but he was catching red snapper and other species on that. I was tempted to try it myself, never had seen anyone really doing that before, and never did it myself but he was doing it effectively.

I had another spot < 1/4 mile away so pulled the anchor and went over there. Found a good mark and re-anchored. Again the wind changed slightly getting me a little off the mark but we finally figured out the right angles for chum etc... to get it going. Pretty much every time you got the bait to the bottom, it was fish on. Lots of really nice mangos and a lot of ARS. Still getting the ajs occasionally and the smaller version I THINK are almaco jacks but could be banded rudderfish. Still not clear on what is what there.

We were primarily using our same tackle we have been. 4000 size rods and reels with long 20 lb flouro leaders. Did go to the 1/4 oz jig head since we were much deeper than we have been fishing but other than that, same thing we have been using.

At these spots we ended up with 19 nice mangos - 5 or 6 20"+ and I got my personal best 24" which was a slob. Kiel finally let me catch the biggest fish of the day so I got my picture taken. Nice hairdo....

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NO yellowtail. Tons of ARS. Several nice gags. Some really small scamp....

So, time to head in. Stopped at the red grouper spot for a little bit to see if we couldn't fill up the box with some firetrucks. Within 10 minutes I got 2 nice keepers to 25" but we didn't anchor and chum so didn't find any more keepers. Lots of shorts. Only did two drifts. I know we could have filled our limit if we would have anchored and chummed and played the game but it was already a full day.

Final take - 19 mangos, 2 nice lanes, 2 red grouper and a nice big porgie. Beautiful day on the water with some good friends. Good to get Scott out of the woods of polk county finally.

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Snapper
Tackle - 4000 reels, 8' medium heavy rods - 1/4 oz jig, LONG 20 lb flouro leader.
Bait - Mostly chunks of sardine.

Grouper
Tackle - Penn 113H size reels, 50 lb mono, 4oz egg sinker (I use the kind with swivel embedded in it) 5-6' 50 lb leader to a 7/0 or 8/0 circle hook.
Bait - The two keepers came on sardine and a squid. But caught on pretty much anything we threw down.

Wind - 5-10 out of the east
Waves - <1 foot
Tide - Kind of running north east but then slacked out pretty nicely.


Tight lines...
In Loving Memory of James Zielske, January 19, 1957-July 5, 2013

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