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|Top Dawgs in Big Mack Attack|
Blustery easterly winds blew consistently the last week creating a need for much extra effort in getting results on the flats. Easterly winds are almost always associated with stable high pressure, bluebird skies, and lower than normal water heights. Nonetheless, the results were achieved and some better than others. Overall the inshore species are scattered due to that the temperatures are back up to 79 degrees, but they will tighten up with each passing front as we move into November.
Some gator trout have made it back into the ultra skinny. Inside bayous, protected cul-de-sacs, and the first oyster bars guarding river, creek, and canal systems are producing some fish up to 4 lbs. The open pot holes at low tide are holding some hogs that are very spooky in addition to being spread out. Best approaches a quiet drifts with long casts with soft plastic jerk baits. Once found, it is best to slip over the hook and work the area over thoroughly, before continuing to drift. Too many times this past week I drifted onto fish that needed a bit more enticing to strike, only to be blown out when they saw our shadows. The open grass flats in 4 to 6 feet of water are producing school size fish, along with an occasional bluefish, jack cravelle, cobia and Spanish mackerel. Live sardines and jigs get the nod here. When we had water, redfish were easily found along the sawgrass points and oyster bars. Some spots yielded up to 2-dozen reds, but many of them were rats with a half dozen falling into the slot. Otherwise, we worked hard utilizing the run and shoot offensive to add a single or two on easterly winds and very low ebb tides. Without some type of flood tide, it is near impossible to both; reach the spots and expect the fish to make it to where we expect to find them. Best results came when the major moon tides gave us what we needed to get the job done.
Michael Overstreet took an unusual redfish of an impressive 40 inches and some 20lbs on Friday while working the low tide potholes on a flat with just 18 inches of water (see photo). In addition to that, many medium sized reds, a 26 inch trout and a 32 inch snook made a quality total inch “slam”. Redfish of this size (though not common) are found more often than not offshore on the Gulf Coast of Florida. While this particular fish is the exception to the rule, we were more than happy to oblige.
Michael Overstreet dwarfs wife's (Liz) 26 inch
trout with a 40 inch red
Liz tries to top Michael's 40 inch red with a 32 inch snook. Though she could not topple the red, she adds some inches to a Friday afternoon "slam".
The highlight of the week came on Saturday when team Bounty Hunter compiled of myself, Chris Bandl and Scott Myers took a shot in the “Big Mack Attack” Spanish mackerel tournament out of St. Petersburg. We faced some stiff wind and seas running 3 to 4 feet. After securing 1000 scaled sardines in the morning, I pointed the bow to some numbers in 10 feet of water just offshore of Port Richey to a favorite deep water grass flat that had produced macks for me in world class sizes over the years. We chummed the area for near an hour with little results as the water was churned due to the winds of all week. Best bet now was to get over some hard bottom rocks in a little deeper water. Again I dialed in the numbers. You could hear a pin drop in the boat when the GPS read 4.5 miles further southwest to go in some bad conditions. A half hour later we dropped anchor on some rocks west of New Port Richey in 22 feet of water and started to sweeten the soup.
Within an hour, the bite light was on. Scott made the first contribution with a 5 pounder and over the next 4 hours Chris and Scott had caught about 30 mackerel, 17 of which ranged 5 to 6 lbs. We then decided on a quitting time to allow enough time to make weigh in. About 15 minutes prior to that time expiring, Chris hooked a fish that made an incredible run. Now on the gaff, we liked our chances and headed in. At the scales, Chris’s fish tipped the scales at 6.25 and took top honors and a check for $1,200. Billy Moore took 2nd with 5.35; Bud Henly fishing with Mark Miklos on Prime Time took 3rd with 5.05. Rules allowed only 1 fish weighed per boat entry thus the other jumbo macks in our box did not qualify for a potential sweep.
few kings are in the area the past week and will only build in numbers
as the water cools and the fish continue their southbound migration. Fall
is, in my opinion, the better kingfish migration as traditionally the
big boys tend to head south much closer to shore in clean water conditions.
Chris Bandl (left) and Capt. Robert McCue display the 6.25 lb. Spanish mackerel to take first place in the 2001 Big Mack Attack Tournament.
A scouting trip on the nearshore grouper fishing proved slow. A good friend dawned the mask and fins to survey some spots last week and found some fish are home, but they are resident fish. The bruised and scared migratory fish of the depths have not migrated in yet due to the warm water we are still experiencing. I will check our unique and productive bottom again in between the following fronts. The grass seems to have cleared somewhat, and the water is clear outside the 20ft contour, this making excellent bottom trolling conditions for grouper. For those set on them, 40 to 50 feet is the mark and trolling is an excellent way to build your cache of numbers.
A mild front is passing the state during the next day and a perfect fall cooling scenario is in place. If it continues in a moderate fashion, expect some excellent and prolonged fall fishing.
Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!
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