Awesome Snapper Day !!

Today, I was able to align all of the stars and pull off a fantastic day fishing!  The plan was to do nothing but some serious “Technical” fishing on some ledges about 11 miles out.  Just in cell phone range and within sight of land.

The weather was absolutely perfect with flat calm seas, no wind and not a single wave.  I had the opportunity to hook up with Greg Dunley who was born and raised in Florida and fished with me in the Islands a few moons ago.  Greg has wired and put his hands on a lot of BIG fish and is also really good at bottom fishing here in S/W Florida.  Also on board was Captain Tim, who teaches many of our classes in both the classroom and on the water.  Tim has evolved into one of the best snapper fishermen I’ve seen on our coast and he has a unique knack for putting quality snapper in the boat.  Also accompanying us today were Shaun and Kyle Luloffs from the Gulf to Bay Fishing Club.  These brothers have also turned into great fishermen over the years and have an absolute passion for bottom fishing.  They are always the last people to leave after our monthly meetings and stay to help clean up.  I wanted to show them a great time for their commitment to our club.

At 6:30 am, I fired up the big CAT engines on the “Loud Enuff” and we headed out the Venice Inlet.  What is great about this time of year is that you do not have to run far to put quality fish in the boat.  This would be proven on the first and second drop of the day.  As soon as Captain Tim’s cut bait hit the bottom, he was tight on a fat 3 lb mangrove snapper.  Immediately following that, I hooked into one of those “endangered” and “threatened” Gag groupers that went about 13 lbs.   This is a great time to explain what I mean by “Technical” fishing.  Our tackle today consisted of medium/heavy action INSHORE fishing rods.  Line was 10 lb test Suffix 832 braid, leader 25lb test Fluorocarbon, size 1/0 circle hooks, and split shots for weight (if we used any at all).  The big gag was caught on this exact outfit and goes against the grain with regard to typical “grouper tackle”.

tim mang 1gag1

There was a fairly strong current over the ledge, and our chum was pulled away rather quickly.  This was both good and bad in that I was able to anchor the boat very close to the ledge (by the way, anchoring a 60′ sport fisherman in a precise spot is not as easy as you think) and the fish were directly below us, but the drifting chum also helped to pull in fish that were on the other side of the structure.

The bite would get hot, then slow for a bit.  Kyle Luloffs put on a “Porgy Catching Clinic” as he, for some reason, was catching one after the other of these great eating reef fish.  Nobody else caught a Porgy, but him.

Kyle porgy 1

Our baits consisted of both cut mullet and ballyhoo, along with 10 dozen live shrimp from Mahi Mac’s Bait and Tackle.  Kyle then decided the add some variety to the fish box and threw in a fat Red Grouper, also caught on light spinning gear.

Kyle rg 1

Captain Tim somehow found yet another one of those “endangered” and “threatened” Gag Grouper on a tiny piece of cut mullet.

tim gag 1

Then the snapper bite turned on.  It took a while, but we were able to pick at QUALITY mangrove snapper for the next few hours.  I made the comment that : “You almost have to be stupidly stubborn in waiting the snapper out.”  This is where a LOT of bottom fishermen fail in snapper fishing because they are not patient enough and simply move onto another spot because they haven’t caught any snapper.  Like we teach in all of our snapper classes, you have to wait snapper out.  Just when you think you should  move is when you need to try harder.  Most likely, they are there…..  Today, they were there !

shawn mang1

me lane 1

tim mang 7tim mang 6

tim greg mang 1

Greg mang 1greg big mang 3

greg bent rod 1

tim mang 4

bucket o fish

Today was just one of those really rare fishing days where it all came together.  Best part was I actually got to “Fun Fish” with a great group of guys!


Lessons to take away:  Remember from our classes, when the water cools and is clear, you must reduce your tackle and BAIT.

Fish get lethargic when the water cools and we have had nothing but one cold front after the next hitting our area.

Use small baits (Cut pieces of mullet and ballyhoo).

Lighten all your leader, sinkers and hooks.

Be patient!!  The fish’s metabolism slows as the water cools and they are not really interested in a big bait.

Today, based on our past weather patterns, small baits and light tackle were the key to success!

Offshore Sarasota Jan 6th

Went out today with the intentions to put my friends cousins from New York on some Goliath Grouper just to watch them struggle…… :) . So we started out the day at M5 to load up on spanish mackeral and with in a short amount of time we had about 15 in the cooler and off we went  to our goliath spot. After an hour we had one pull off within seconds and no other takers……..darn! So we decided to change things up and look for some new spots in the area, after about 30 minutes of crusing around we came across what looked like a really nice ledge. So first drift over the spot and instant tripple hook up!!!!! Ended up being two gag grouper and one nice fat red grouper, so after we took some photos, released the gags and boxed the red I decided to anchor on this spot to see what else it had to offer. After about 2 hours we ended with countless red grouper and mangrove snapper! I was very suprised to see the snapper bitting the way they were because of the full moon coming up and the fact that we had no chum at all, they must have been hungry. We called it a day around 1pm, ended up keeping 3 red grouper and 16 snappers for the dinner table not too bad for a day when we wernt even going for food fish…lol.

Here are some pictures from today

Slick calm conditions all day, bait cut bonita, fishing depth 65ft

Offshore Sarasota

Headed out today with snapper and grouper in mind, as Aaron from orlando wanted to have a day on the water and some fresh fillets. Left the inlet around 7am to a proven snapper spot of mine. Well we ended up with 30 Mangrove, 7 trigger fish, 10 porgy, 6 lane snapper, 3 Aj’s and one lucky Scamp grouper that went home with me :)    .After our limit of snapper was reached we picked up and headed over to a nice ledge that I found a few years ago that always produces to see what the red grouper were up to ……. well they were coming over the gunnel as fast as we could get  our bait down. Ended up with 12 red grouper up to 15lbs and let go atleast 30 or more shorts. All in all a great day on the water, ended up with 65lbs of cleaned fillets, lots of gag grouper were caught and released today as well. Here are a few pictures from today.

Every thing but the grouper were caught on live shrimp, red grouper were caught on bonita strips and frozen sardines.

hope you enjoy

Captain Tim