Offshore Information, Adventures and Conditions

Friday, September 25, 2009

Trolling Strip Baits for Kingfish And Grouper

Every year during the fall months the jacks begin to school inshore. As the jacks start schooling inshore the kingfish begin their migration south.

Jacks are easy to catch and they do make great strip baits for trolling. They are also very tough bait good for at least a couple of hours of trolling. And the strip baits make great grouper bait.

Cutting out the strip bait.
When cutting out the strip bait the end result needs to be streamlined and symmetrical. Otherwise your bait will spin and the only thing you'll catch is a big knot in your line. The first step is to fillet both sides of the jack, cutting through the bones.

Now you will need to thin out the fillet by cut against the grain (from the tail end to the head end). You will want the fillet about 1/4 in thick.

If the jack is small you might only get one bait per side. This jack is big enough for two baits from each side.
Next cut the general shape of the strip bait from the fillet, tapering the shape as you get closer to the tail end. Now start refining the shape cutting away any irregular edge.

Once you have the shape and thickness of the strip bait you will need to make a small cut near the top of the bait. This is needed for rigging.

To rig the bait, the easiest leader to use is wire. It will also keep the kingfish from cutting the line.

To use the bait for bottom fishing, slide the hook through the small cut at the top of the bait then stick the hook through the boat about half way down. This will let the bait flutter in the current and drive the grouper crazy.

Storing Strip Baits
The best part about this type of bait, is that it freezes very well. If I am planning on storing a lot of baits I will usually salt the meat sides and lay them flat in a freezer bag with 4 baits per bag. Since I plan on using these this week, I just put them in a sandwich bag and put them in the freezer.

The best thing about the strip baits is they are very tough and the kingfish and grouper love them (if you are really adventurous, the tuna, dolphin and sailfish like them too). The big bonus is that you can catch all the jacks you want and have fun doing it.

Good Luck

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Time for Shallow Water Grouper Fishing

This is my most favorite time of the year. The grouper have started moving in closer as the weather cools. It is always nice to be able to run out 8 miles and catch my 2 grouper instead of running 80 miles. Save a lot of time and gas money.

In my area there are two of natures signs that tells me when the grouper begin to move in to the shallow water. The first is the cooler nights and the passing of the first cold front. You would not really know it but that just happened. The second is the deer go in to pre-rut and you will start to see many does hanging around the roads. When you start to see the deer, it time to start grouper fishing.

Many people have different definition of shallow water grouper fishing. Some may think 20-25 ft or 15-20 ft. Think shallower, I have many rocks in 6-8ft water where we tend to catch decent size fish (25-30 inch) in Sept, Oct and Nov.

For those who may not be aware of the recent changes in the grouper regulations.
New federal regulations for shallow-water grouper species in the Gulf of Mexico took effect May 18, 2009.

Current Recreational Regulations
- Gag, Black, Red Grouper -
(State and Federal Waters)

State and Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Except Monroe County) *




Minimum Size Limit

22" TL

22" TL

20" TL

Bag Limit

up to 2 Gag within the 4 grouper aggregate

up to 4 Black within the 4 grouper aggregate

up to 2 Red within the 4 grouper aggregate

Closed Season**

Feb and March

Feb and March

Feb and March


charter captain/crew - zero bag limit

Good Luck, Stay Legal and Safe

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Shallow Water Grouper Report

Report 06/19/2009.

The latest shallow water grouper report came from two friends that spent last week fishing everyday. They fished in 12-14 ft of water and limited out everyday. Most keepers where 25 - 27 in while the biggest was 32 in. They also caught many shorts (but fewer than the offshore reports) as well as a few short red grouper. Which I believe is a strong indication that the red grouper are making a very healthy recovery.

Off of Hernando/Citrus counties there is a large flat area that starts in 10ft out to 13ft. This large area of grass flats is about 4 -6 miles wide and it has many low profile rocks. Most of these rocks are very hard to find on a depth recorder, unless you go directly over it. Over the years I have found many, but I know there are many many more out there. The way I found most of them is in the fall drifting trout. Sometimes you will hook grouper other times you can see them busting the top of the water chasing bait. Yes grouper will hit surface baits. The largest shallow water grouper I have caught was 24lbs while trolling a skip baits. When something like this happens make sure you mark the area. If the water is murky, you may not be able to find the rock. If you mark the location, you can always come back when the water is clear.

Typically by this time of year, all the larger grouper have moved to deeper water and will return in late September. This is another good sign that the grouper population should continue build over the next 7-10 years, unless gas prices stay high. Then I could see the grouper stock returning to their maximum potential levels.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shallow Water Grouper

Shallow water grouper report. I ran in to a friend this afternoon and got the report on the recent grouper catches. Last Saturday, they ran out to 30-35 ft and could not get a bite. On the way in they decided to stop in 9 ft and limited out in about 45 minutes.

The key to shallow water grouper fishing is do not get too close to the rock. The grouper can feel the pressure of the boat and will either move away from or under the rock. Also for those who are fortunate to have such prized locations, it's a good idea to dive the rocks over the warm summer months and take note of which way the rock lays, if and where holes are located and the hole's orientation. Then in the spring and fall you will be ready to limit out and get back to the dock in a few hours.

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