The Tampa Bay Times

Dave Zalewski 460-9893

The fact that stone crab season has started can be evidenced by the proliferation of crab trap buoys. Some boaters and fisherman dislike seeing them because if run over and having them become entangled in a propeller can become an expensive proposition, The silver lining to having them in our area is that they become a boon to fisherman. Tripletail seek floating structure and can be found lurking around many of the buoys. When one is spotted running past a buoy, returning to it with a live shrimp on a spinning rod rigged with a 2/0 circle hook will usually generate a strike from these hard fighting sometimes air borne fish. A frozen shrimp will also work, but will not be as effective. A third alternative is to cast a small plug or jig and work it in front of the fish.
Crabbers usually place their traps over hard rocky bottom and bait them with fish carcasses which serve as structure and also as chum for anglers. The traps are set in a depth which is correct for trolling for gag grouper using a #3 planer with a large broken backed gold plug or large jig with a shad tail. Using a large lipped plug also works very well. Trolling speed should be around 4.5 knots.
When trolling for Spanish mackerel and kingfish in the area of crab traps and a strike occurs the marker gives one a great reference point to return to once the fish has been landed.