It was a busy weekend for fishing here in Pinellas County. I closed shop early on Wednesday, picked up 10 dozen fiddler crabs in anticipation of a sheepshead extravaganza, and headed to the Merry Pier. I did manage a couple small sheepshead in an hour or so. I returned Thanksgiving morning, started scraping barnacles off the pilings, and fired the fiddlers to the bottom. It appears that my previous headline “The Sheepshead are In” was a bit premature. I managed to get three or four, but no big ones, and the ones that were there were few and far between. I saw a few small flounder caught, and a big redfish lost, but overall it was a very slow fishing day.
Friday was a different story. I met up at sunrise with Captain Dick, his son David and a couple of his friends for some offshore fun. We quickly filled the livewell with small to medium pinfish, and a couple decent blue runners, then headed out to an amberjack spot in around 100 feet. David dropped the first bait, and we were hooked up in seconds.
Over the next 60 minutes, we put four big amberjack in the box, averaging around 30 pounds each. We then headed to a ledge for grouper and snapper. And they were there- we boxed a nice gag, along with a healthy mango and a couple of Porgies as a bonus. We ran back to a spot inÂ 80 foot next.
The bottom finder went crazy, showing huge clouds of fish. We dropped, and were all soon hooked up. Turns out there was an incredibly large school of banded rudderfish on the spot- good eating, but not what we had in mind. We sent a couple big pinfish down, and were greeted with a double hookup. And these were BIG fish- no doubt gags. Only one problem- both fish managed to rock up. When a hooked grouper succeeds in wedging himself into a hole, they’ll start ‘drumming’ emitting a low frequency sound that serves as an alert to all the other grouper in the area. Sure enough, we didn’t get another grouper bite after that.
Still, it wasÂ a great day on the water- waves around a foot, temperatures in the mid 70’s, lots of sunshine and plenty of fish. An outstanding day!