Fishing Back in the Day

By: Capt. Bart Marx

The offshore fishing should be great as there are nice red grouper, lanes, and mangrove snapper in the 70-to-100-foot range. Some guys like to drift fish for the red grouper, back in the day that is how we caught red grouper. We never marked any spots, it was mostly Loran as our boat only had a depth finder. We built our own marking jug, using a yellow antifreeze bottle with some dive weights and 70 feet of line and fished in 65 ft. of water. While drifting to catch grouper if two of us hooked up at the same time we would throw the jug, reel in our catch and pull back in front of the buoy and anchor over the spot and fish till they quit biting. Back in the day! With all the fancy electronics today, it is a challenge to find some good spots that shallow. Also closer to shore in the 30 to 60 ft. range permit on the artificial reefs and cudas. They eat small fish that may eat corals that make them toxic when they get big. I believe it is call ciguatera. When I lived in St. Croix the locals would lay the cuda on an ant pile and if the ants did not eat it, they did not ether!  In our own back yard, the end of May is when the large schools of tarpon come to the local passes and Boca Grande is billed as the Tarpon Capitol of the World. May, June, and July are typically the most productive months of the year. The ones that migrate here are feeding to go spawn in the Gulf after they fatten up. Boca is like a feeding funnel and is a mile wide and most of the water in Charlotte Harbor flows through it. The harbor is a nursery to many species, and they get pushed and pulled by the tides through the pass such as crabs, shrimp, pin fish, sand perch/squirrel fish just to name a few. Some of the Good Old Boys from Boca only live bait fish and they have some baits that some would not think of using. Snook should start their transition out to saltier water where they can spawn. While I was teaching the Don Ball School of Fishing, I got to meet the local snook scientist and he explained how this works. The snook that live in the rivers must migrate where the salinity is high enough for them to spawn successfully. And the ones from the Harbor migrate to the beaches. Snook that usually around the barrier islands go out to the reefs. Until FWC opens snook season, it is catch and release. Check the FWC fish rules app. for the most current information. Sharks show up when their favorite food comes to town, tarpon. Get your big rigs out and tune them up for a battle.