The redfish bonanza of 2007 continues in Pasco and Hernando counties. The numbers and consistency of the reds have been unprecedented of the past decade. What are fluctuating are the sizes of reds. Over the past few months our catches have consisted primarily of mid- to lower-slot fish. Now, and retro of last winter, the fish are running on the upper- to over-sized slot of the spectrum. Frequent catches of large trout and flounder have been provisional bonuses while fishing reds. Another thing that continues is the ambiguous wind speed and direction that affect your daily planning strategies.
Off Hernando County the grouper bite remains productive between 12 and 20 feet of water when the wind allows you to make a comfortable ride 6 to 9 miles offshore. Staple to success is the accessibility of live scaled sardines.
First anchor yourself up tide of small rock piles. Next start a chum line by cutting up minnows and allowing them to drift back to the rocks. Thereafter, slightly crush handfuls of the live bait and disseminate it in a semi circle behind the boat. With this technique, the grouper will move up the chum line and away from the structure. Done properly, the fish often become frenzied and caught by simply free lining a live sardine in the current. When you can fish the minnows without weight, you optimize your chances of catching other species present such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish, sharks and the oddball cobia.
Capt. Robert McCue can be reached at (800) 833-0489 or through his website www.GiantTarpon.com