In-shore, off-shore fishing condition improves as it cools

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By Capt. Brylee

Special to the Beacon

The cooling Gulf waters are proving to be great for fishing both in-shore and off-shore. All along the Nature Coast, reports have shown an increase in fish activity. The cooling waters have turned the fish on and they are becoming more and more frisky.

Capt. Steve Hart with Legal Limits Charters out of Steinhatchee reported great success this past Friday and Saturday. The grouper are hitting in waters from 48-65 feet. While frozen bait has shown results, the gag grouper are hitting live bait better. Live pinfish is Steve’s bait of choice.

Oct. 31 marks the end of the 2012 gag grouper season and as the waters cool more as we get further into October the gag should become even more aggressive.

Water temperatures have lowered to 80-81 degrees throughout the gulf. Look for the temperatures to fall to the mid-70s for the most optimum fishing.

Fishing the off-shore wrecks and springs located around Steinhatchee, Cpt. Hart also had good results with amberjack. As with fishing for gag grouper, amberjack hit better on live baits and jigs, “the faster the bait the better” said Captain Hart. Both pigfish and blue runners make good live baits.

Legal Limits Charters reported an amberjack being landed of around 40 pounds and measuring over 40 inches.

In addition to grouper and amberjack,  there have been many reports of seeing cobia running again. They will be migrating south as the weather forces them into warmer waters.

In Cedar Key, the reports have been similar with the fish hitting heavy with the gag grouper being found in water depths as low as 30-feet, all the way out to 60-feet depths.

Cobia have been reported to be running in schools out around the steel tower and Spanish makeral have been caught around the Sea Horse Reef area.

According to Captain John Blouse with Hooked –Up Charters in Cedar Key, the larger cobia are going to be found off-shore and have been spotted in groups of a dozen or more at a time.

This migration will only last until the water temperatures lower into the mid to low 70s.

This past week, the trend has been that the fishing was a little slow in the morning hours but picking up as the day goes on. Capt. Blouse reported his best fishing times this past week or so has been between noon and 3 p.m.

The fish have been hitting in droves and feeding in an “all or none” fashion. They will hit like crazy and then just stop, Capt. John said. When they stop, you can often move no more than 300 to 400 feet away and they will turn on again.

While the gag grouper have been found in as little as 30 feet, the red grouper are still in around 45-60 feet

Our feature catch this week is from both Steinhatchee as well as Cedar Key. In Steinhatchee Captain Steve Hart not only landed an amberjack of well over 40 pounds he also boasted catching over 400 pounds of fish on Saturday. That marks a good day for anglers.

In Cedar Key, the Cedar Key Marina II reported a patron catching cobia by the steel tower, one being a 40 pounder. More cobia were caught, but not quite keepers as the minimum length for cobia is 33 inches.

Please obey all state and local laws and remember to catch and release. Good luck catching.