Having the proper tools for any job is the key to success. This is definitely true for fishing. Having the proper equipment for the type of species you’re targeting can mean the difference between a successful day and a frustrating one. For example, fishing offshore for grouper, you want heavy equipment. You need a stout rod, a reel that can handle at least 50-pound line, enough weight to get you to and hold the bottom and a strong circle hook. For kingfish, you might want a good spinning reel that holds a lot of line (free lining or trolling). For cobia, I always have a rod set up with a pitch bait that I can grab quickly when one comes by. For snapper, you want a lighter setup and lighter line and the same for Spanish mackerel. It’s not always easy to bring gear for all these, but better to have it and not need it, than not have it and need it.
Offshore: Gag grouper are being caught all over my region in 10 to 60 feet of water. The stone crab traps are out, which creates thousands of chum blocks on the Gulf’s bottom. I believe these traps draw the fish into these areas. Bottom dropping with live or frozen bait or trolling can be very productive for these hard fighting fish. Gag grouper regulations are two per person with a minimum size limit of 24 inches TL. Visit www.myfwc.com for more information. When you’re anchored and bottom fishing, put out a free lined bait, as the kingfish are starting to show up. There are, also, some cobia still around–keep an eye out for them. Grunts, seabass and hogfish can also be caught in these deeper spots.
Inshore: The inshore bite is really taking off. Look for the redfish just before or after the high tide. They can be found around shallow structures like oyster beds, grassy flats and mangrove shorelines. A tip: look for water being pushed or tailing reds. Again, as I have said before, try to read the water. Use cut baits or shrimp under a strike indicator. Snook can also be found in the same areas as the redfish. With the cooler water, the trout are also moving into the shallows. I like to target them with a ¼ ounce jig head with either a Gulp shrimp or a soft plastic jerk bait.
Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!