GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Mike Anderson, right, with "Reel Animals" partner Billy Nobles.
After a lousy week of fishing thanks to Tropical Storm Debby, the opening Sunday of gag grouper season should put a smile back on anglers' faces.
Whenever we have a big storm, it shuffles the deck in deep water. Storms congregate the fish on structure, and the days following the storm can be some of the best of the year. If you're running offshore, start in 50 feet of water and work your way out. Higher water temperatures push a lot of big gags to seek deeper, cooler waters. Live pinfish, along with frozen sardines and squid, will do the trick just fine.
If trolling is your thing, there are plenty of fish holding all along the edges of the shipping channel as you enter Tampa Bay. Mirro-Lure 25+ is my artificial bait of choice as it will run perfectly between 26 and 32 feet, which works the rocky edges quite well. Down riggers work, as well, and help greatly to manage the depth at which you fish.
When fishing with down riggers, use a 4- to 6-ounce white jig head with a pink or chartreuse curly tail jig body. The down riggers are very effective because of the ease of changing depths quickly. This helps to find the magical depths they are at. Gag grouper season closes Oct. 31, so get out and enjoy it while you can.