Early Spring: St. Augustine Offshore
Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring. I am the eternal optimist so let’s go with that. March means Wahoo and Blackfin Tuna to the offshore fisherman. This fishery is divided into two groups, fast and slow. Fast referring to the high-speed lure fisherman and slow referring to the group that prefers to pull rigged baits. I have done both but prefer the latter. High speed lure fishing does have its benefits. You can cover more territory and you pretty much eliminate all species other than Wahoo. It also supports the local tackle and fuel vendors.
Let’s talk about the benefit of natural bait. Most importantly it allows you to fish for multiple species at the same time. I love Wahoo but do not mind adding a fat Tuna fish or early season Mahi to the fish box. My typical spread will be a mixture of wire and monofilament rigs.
I pull two shotguns from the bridge. One will have a cedar plug rigged on mono the other will be a Islander lure Sea Star with a medium ballyhoo rigged on wire. The long riggers will be wire and ballyhoo rigs as well. The two short riggers will be naked mono ballyhoo rigs Off the transom we pull a deep line with an Islander Hawaiian eye usually blue and white rigged on wire. The other transom line is usually a mono bait. Depending on what we are seeing and how many bite offs we have this spread will be adjusted accordingly. It’s not unusual for us to have Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi and Sailfish all on the same day.
We normally fish structure just inshore of the shelf or the shelf itself. 7 knots is the normal trolling speed and the old saying don’t leave fish to find fish always is good advice.
On the bottom there will be plenty of jumbo bee liners, triggerfish and porgies available for those days when the trolling fish don’t cooperate. Any structure from 140 ft and deeper should hold plenty of fish dinners. A double hook Rigg baited with cut squid and you are in business. If you want something larger Amberjack will be schooled up along the ledge in preparation for spawning. A 6 to 8-ounce jig worked vertically through the water column should produce plenty of reef donkeys. Remember all grouper species are closed until May 1st
“Let’s Go Fishing”.
Captain Robert Johnson
Jodie Lynn Charters.com