"In every species of fish I've angled for, it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory.† So I say it is good to lose fish.† If we didn't, much of the thrill of angling would be gone." Ray Bergman
We seem to be well into our winter pattern of weather with several days of warm, calm days followed by cold fronts moving through and bringing with them the winds and rain.
This is not a bad thing because we can gauge the days we should be out there fishing. Fishing seems to be best in the 12 hours leading up to the cold front due to the dropping barometric pressure and the increase in winds. This pattern is very noticeable if you watch the daily success rate on the large commercial boats. Those trips going out right before the cold front moves in seem to bring home the bigger catches. Grouper fishing is really taking off with a lot of keeper size Gag Groupers as well as a few Reds being brought in. Customers at the Bait House have told us that they are catching 10 to 15 smaller ones (16Ē to 20Ē) for every one keeper they get. Keepers must be 22Ē. But what fun it is just to be catching grouper on a consistent basis. The stories about the ones that got away are plentiful. A local angler told us that he was fishing with his best friend when the friend had a 20 plus pound Gag break his line right where he had tied it to the egg sinker. A half hour later he hit what he thought was another large Gag. When they landed the fish in the boat, it had not only the hook in its mouth, but also the original rig complete with the weight hanging from the other side of its mouth. Now thatís a great story. Grouper rigs generally include a 3 oz. to 8 oz. swiveled egg sinker, monofilament leader and circle hook. While a lot of our customers are using live pinfish as bait, others swear that they have better luck using frozen sardines and finger mullets. Shellfish and squid are also part of a grouperís diet so it makes sense when anglers report hitting them near rock piles and flats using shrimp and frozen squid.
Weíve seen an increase in the number of Redfish caught in the last week around piers, seawalls, and the edges of sea grass on the Intracoastal Waterway. I canít really explain why thereís an increase, but itís happening. The anglers who are hitting these great fighters have told us that they are fishing either right on the bottom or a foot off the bottom using a single drop rig and tipped with cut up ladyfish and sardines. We watched a pair of anglers having a very successful day of Sheephead fishing using shucked clams as bait at the pier next to the Bait House. I have to try that bait. They had some nice size fish. Is anyone else as sick as I am of catching those pesky Lizard Fish? These pests are so aggressive that you can land them without a hook. They just wonít let go of the bait.
Because of the number of people heading out grouper fishing these days, make sure you call ahead and reserve your live pinfish from us. We hate to tell anyone we are sold out. Donít forget we have dock access for your boat and all the tackle and bait you need for your day on the water. Thanks to all of you that email me at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There!
Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina, phone 446-8134
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