Fishing in winter off the coast of Florida more than 20 miles can be challenging this time of year, but it’s when all species seem to bite the best. Right now with the colder of the cold fronts moving in and the blistering winds churning the all mighty gulf and with temperatures plunging, it moves our little finned-friends around. They tend to gather up on natural coral outcroppings this time of year to feast on the abundance of bait and bait fish that move into the area.
In the last month, we have found large Red Grouper, Scamp, and large Mango Snapper in the 40 mile / 120 foot range. The fish have been feeding on live Pinfish, and Spanish Sardines. Also, a little bit shallower, from 85 – 55 feet, we have been catching beautiful Hog Snapper, Mangoes, Red Grouper, and Scamp. Most of these fish in this depth have been caught on Spanish Sardines, and Shrimp. At this time of year when fishing these shallower waters with light tackle, you want to upgrade to the next rod and reel or line and leader size. The abundance of migrating Gag Grouper, preparing for the spawn, are on the feed. By upping the tackle to the next size level, you will give yourself a greater opportunity to catch one of the little Black Beasts – instead of him breaking you off in the coral. Believe me, the other fish are not leader-shy this time of year either. They’re eating as much as they can, to store body fat for the upcoming spawn.
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