With each passing day the daylight hours are getting longer which have a definite effect on fishing both inshore and offshore. Water temperatures are determined by two different factors. The arrival of a cold front will chill surface temperatures for a few days after a front passes through and then the water will start to return. The biggest factor that we have regarding water temps are the length of days where the water can absorb the rays of the sun. So far surface temperatures have not dipped below the low 60’s and we should see a daily average warming. Historically when water falls below 60 the metabolism of the bottom fish slows down and fishing with frozen sardines, cut bait and squid is much more effective than fishing with live bait. In the very cold water the fish do not want to burn as much energy chasing down a frisky live bait. On our recent trips offshore to the 60 to 80 foot depths, where many of the bottom fish, have seemed to concentrate, a combination of both live and frozen bait has led to success.
Now that the Red Tide has left the area we have again put out pinfish traps and have been rewarded with good numbers of them. They are running smaller than usual, which to us has created an opportunity to target mangrove snapper which do not seem to be affected as much by the cooler water. When targeting the usual range of bottom fish, the use of fluorocarbon leader is not necessary. When specifically targeting the mangroves a 6 to 8 foot fluorocarbon leader, the smallest weight needed to reach the bottom, and a 2/0 or3/0 hook small circle is mandated. Mangrove snapper inhabit the same structure that grouper do and are both curious and wary. They will be attracted by the feeding activity but are very wary of what they will strike. Hence the need for light tackle.
St Patrick’s Day (March 17) usually signifies the start of trolling season. Now is the time to get that tackle in order. Time flies.