Pro Insider – Influx of baitfish coming

What’s hot: Grouper fishing offshore is what we’re known for, but many other species are readily accessible in the eastern gulf. During the next two months, massive baitfish migrations will invade this area, followed closely by plenty of pelagic species such as sailfish, wahoo, kingfish and blackfin tuna. When targeting these speedsters, bait is key. Cast nets under bridges for scaled sardines to use as “chummers” on the fishing grounds. Then use a sabiki rig to get blue runners, large Spanish sardines and cigar minnows from offshore wrecks or markers in the shipping channel.

Tips:¬†Key on wrecks and springs in depths of 120 feet or more. Anchor up-current of the structure by at least 100 yards. A steady stream of live sardines will start the process. A rate of 5-10 “chummers” every five minutes should do the trick. They should swim together in a small group and will be swept down current toward the structure. Hook your casting baits just above the anal fin to make them swim away from the boat, and a few other baits under small balloons should improve the size of your footprint on the spot.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and

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