Sarasota Fla. Report 5/24/98

From: Capt. Bob Smith
Date: 24 May 1998
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Sarasota Florida Fishing Report. By Capt. Bob Smith. May 23, 1998 bobsmith@cftnet.com

Grouper, amberjack, permit and barracuda but still no sign of the tarpon! This is probably due to an anticyclone phase which has developed off of Naples from a cyclonic current eddy from the gulf stream. What that means is that the water offshore is up- welling from the bottom and will naturally be colder. This anticyclonic up-welling usually means more bait offshore, but may keep the temps down some.

I found most of my fish in 30 to 50 feet of water from 3 to 12 miles offshore. We fished with live bait on the natural hard bottom for grouper. I would find the fish on the fish-finder, mark the spot with a buoy and then anchor over them because they seemed to stay bunched up in a small area. Use no more than one ounce of lead and slowly drop the bait to the bottom. Then just bring it back up a little to avoid snagging. I use at least a 100 lb mono leader and a strong 3/0 to 6/0 hook depending on the size of the bait.

The (M) reefs were very active and I only needed to go to (M-3) and (M-7) to get plenty of action. I am sure that all the other reefs were active as well. (M-3) was loaded with 3 to 5 pound amberjacks caught mostly on live Spanish sardines or cigar minnows due to all the blue-runners taking the live shrimp. The blue-runners also made it hard to get a permit with shrimp, but we did get some. The permit were coming to the top and sticking their heads out of the water but they stayed just out of casting distance. They are little spooky right now. Some larger AJs were taken on (M-7) but most are under 28".

The M reefs now have what could be called schools of large jewfish and I would say some look to be well over 500 pounds. That can make it hard to seriously fish the bottom for snapper and grouper, their favorite food. You can just see them come up behind a hooked amberjack. One was so big that I thought I was seeing the bottom until it opened its huge yellow month to swallow my fish.

There is plenty of baitfish in the gulf! You can find lots of large pinfish in 30-35 feet of water. If you want Spanish sardines and cigar minnows, it would be best to wait until you get to 40 feet. You can cast into the schools of surface bait, but I have been doing better fishing the bottom under the surface bait with plain "bare" gold hook bait rigs. The feathered gold rig gets too many grunts on it.

Enjoy and Protect!