|Met Rick Uffalussy and his wife, and friend Sean Signor who is a flats guide in Tampa Bay who rarely goes offshore at Anclote River Park at 6:00 We quickly loaded and launched the boat and followed Mike Kaplan and his crew out of the channel and over to Anclote Island to catch some bait. Rick had arrived with a bunch of pinfish which he shared with Mike, and we were off for a long 2 hour run to 100′ My route took me directly over another way point so I stopped to have a look around in 85′, but seeing nothing, kept going till we met up with Mike who was anchored up on the “hotspot.” Mike was catching smell vermillion snapper and short red grouper so we anchored close to him but produced noithing. I pulled the hook and looked around on the bottom machine, but did not see a great show, so I decided to run to a wreck 4.5 miles away. As I powered up, the bottom machine showed a spike so I immediately turned around and fished it. Sean got the surprise of his life trying to figure out how a 5 pound red snapper could pull so hard. After releasing it, we continued on the the wreck. I wasn’t going to stickl around and catch that “endangerd” red snapper.Arriving in the vicinity of the wreck, I motored around several numbers I have for this particular wreck but did not mark it on the machine, but figured we were close enough, and dropped the hook. I started out with a standard bottom rig but after bringing up a large mango snapper, switched to a knocker rig with a 20# fluoro leader and quickly put several more in the boat. Rick finally got the hint and changed to a chicken rig and his wife’s rig to a knocker rig. He put a mangrove and a yellowtail in the boat before the bite turned off and Jean, after fighting a fish for about 15 minutes, broke a “Idontknowwhat itwas” off. She also pulled up a fairly large nurse shark, not a bad job on a fairly light pole. We also caught and released several short AJ’s. The bite eventually turned off at the wreck and we received a report from Mike via the VHF that they had caught half their limit of short but legal red grouper, decided to return to the area. We got there and saw them continuing to catch short grouper and small vermillion and an occasional mangrove. I looked around on the bottom machine, but did not see much, but this spot does not produce a lot of “show” so I again dropped the hook and started fishing. Shortly thereafter we were joined by Bob Sherley in his new boat. He had gone further offshore to a ledge in 120′ and caught a gag but was also inundated by ARS and decided to join us. Well this fishing lasted an hour with NO catching, so I decided to start home and fish a couple spots close to our route back. I got to the first spot in 65′ and we caught small sea bass and Jean caught some big grunts on her chicken rig. After a half hour of this, I ran to the second spot and again caught small sea bass and grunts, so we took off for home. As we were running in, we were met by Mike and his crew. Once at teh ramp, Mike told us that just after we left, the big guys showed up and started to eat and they finished their limit of red grouper with 2 30″ fish and 2 25″ fish.
On my part, it wasn’t a great day but we came home with some fish to eat. I really wanted some grouper and an AJ or two to fill up my cooler and to show Sean what offshore fishing is like.