Pro-Insider Rising Water Temps Bring Baitfish

Every year when water temperatures rise into the low to mid 70s, the huge migrations of baits such as threadfin herring and Spanish sardines infest the beaches and the offshore waters. Right behind these migrations are predators such as king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, sharks and tarpon, to name a few. The normal areas such as Blinds Pass Drop, Redington hard-bottom and areas just west of St. Pete Beach have been producing a handful of kingfish in the 25- to 40-pound range. The fish are in those areas feeding on bluefish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel, so these should be the baits of choice. An early morning start is best, but much more important than that is the solunar periods. These times are very specific, and over the year have been very accurate about when the bite will turn on. Offshore grouper fishing has been spectacular in depths of 90-120. Every ledge or roll-off in these depths has been producing red and scamp grouper with most of the larger fish coming from live baits. On recent trips to these depths we have been catching a few black grouper (carborita) in the 15- to 20-pound range although with the warming water temperatures, these fish will soon make their move to the south once again. Amberjack fishing has been consistent on most wrecks and other high-profile ledges in 90- to 120-foot depths. The downfall is many of the fish in these depths are small. Venturing to 150-foot depths or more will produce many fish in the 40- to 50-pound class. These fish have been feeding aggressively on many different artificial baits such as large bucktail jigs, vertical jigs, and even some topwater baits. Chumming these fish into a frenzy with live baits makes for some unforgettable action.

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

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