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December 25, 2009

Sarasota Florida Fishing Report

By Capt. Bob Smith

Pompano are getting thicker on the Stephen’s Point grass-flats just a little south and off of the Ringling home. Although the fishing has been improving throughout December, we had a slow start Wednesday afternoon. Due to the wind, I opted to fish the east side of the bay for a slower drift and less chop. We fished with live shrimp on and around the Stephen’s Point grass-flats for two hours and hardly lost any bait. Then the wind slowed just a little and the fish started to chew. Pompano, large Spanish mackerel, 3 to 4 pound bluefish and some nice seatrout made our afternoon. We also caught some large ladyfish in the mix. I am sure that my D.O.A. and Silly Willy jigs would have worked just as well as the live shrimp but I didn’t want to take the time to re-rig or change our luck.

Earlier in the week I found a large school of Spanish mackerel just outside of New Pass by the small red and green markers. The birds were diving and the fish were boiling as they fed on the schools of baitfish. The macks were mostly small but keeper size. We did well with Silly Willy jigs, especially when we tipped them with a small belly strip from the mackerel we kept. Of course live bait was also working. Over the past few weeks, some the biggest mackerel we caught were in Big Pass, some almost 30” long.

There have been reports of some keeper size gag grouper being caught on the bay. I have not targeted them myself lately but I plan to do so soon. My favorite bait for them is fresh caught pinfish, not over night baits from the bait shop. Pinfish will almost always dive to the bottom, so no lead is needed. Most of the water depths you may fish on the bay are only 10 to 20 feet deep. When a pinfish dances on top of the water it is a good sign of predators below. If it is grouper below, you will see your bait simply disappear under the surface, not a surface blast like a bass would do. If your bait disappears, don’t wait more then a few seconds and start cranking like mad until you feel the weight of the fish. Then set the hook hard and keep the fish moving away from the structure. I never like to fish over the structure on the bay. I cast to it so that I don’t run off the larger fish. I may mark a structure by dropping a marker to the side or behind it, out of my way but still giving me a reference point for casting. To have any consistency at bringing keeper size grouper to the boat, you need to use at least 20lb test line, 60lb test mono leader, stout 4/0 to 6/0 hook and lock down your drag. With grouper, you don’t have the option to let them run. Remember, this is for large bay grouper and not deep water offshore grouper. This is a good starter method but not the only method for grouper on the bay.

Enjoy & Protect

My Website: http//www.sarasota-fla-fishing.com

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