By: Capt. Bart Marx
Time to head out into the Gulf and target some tripletail. In our area there are commercial fishermen that target stone crab claws. And they litter the nearshore waters with traps. Yes, this is a good thing as the buoys on these traps are where tripletail like to hang out. They nose up to the rope under the buoy and it truly looks like a wad of grass stuck on the line or they look like a plastic shopping bag tangled on the line, just under the buoy. Yea this is very productive for them to harvest any little fish that will come to hide around the buoy too. When I worked at the fish market many years ago one of the stone crab guys would bring tripletail in with his crab claws an after a few discussions he shared he would dip them up with a net. I was not much of an offshore guy in my twenties, but as I learned later you can use a fishing pole. When you see what you think is a fish, go past the buoy, slow down and make a U-turn. Approach the buoy slowly and position the in-casting distance to the buoy. Usually you can use a red fish set up to do this, with 20lb. braid and a clear leader about the same length as your rod 20lb. test. I may use live shrimp on a 1/0 VMC circle hook with a 1/4-ounce egg weight. Gulp new penny 3″ or 4″ will work on this rig too and DOA’s work very well tied on the clear leader with no weight. As I pull up and cast past the buoy I’ll reel the bait up to the line and stop the retrieve and let the bait sink and watch the fish they will roll off the buoy and attack the bait. When this happens DO NOT set the hook! Yes, this sounds crazy but most of the time if you set the hook they avoid it. If I wait to feel weight on the line I’ll then jack it up. This is when I need to keep the fish from going around the trap line. The trap line gets rough from them lifting them with the wench and it may cut your line, not a happy camper then. They put up a great fight and are good table fare too. The other thing while I may be running the trap line look for kingfish busting up the bait balls or spanish mackerel. If the waters are cool enough the gag grouper will migrate to the shallow waters where it is easy to troll for them. Yes, troll for grouper it works, using a deep diving lure like an` X-Rap 25/30. Or even a stretch 30 will work. I use a 3/0 Penn with 30lb. Suffix Braid on a med to heavy 7′ rod. with a rod length 30lb. leader with a 2ft. 50lb. leader. It may take some trial and error to figure out the length and speed best but I usually travel about 5knots when I troll with around 100 to 150 feet of line in about 50 feet. Troll around artificial reefs and natural hard bottom for best results.