February 2012 Fishing Report

Not sure what to say… Mom always said something about if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, being the author of this column, I am required to submit something for the editor to put in print. I guess I better start of by saying “Sorry Mom”.

When it comes to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, I just can’t find anything positive to say… It’s more along the lines of National Marine Fisheries DIS-SERVICE and the South Atlantic Fisheries MIS-MANAGEMENT COLLUSION. All of which is overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, to which it is commonly referred. More realistically, it stands for No-ah, you can’t keep that fish. Or, No-ah, we are not for the sale of domestic seafood and we will not stop until all seafood in the US will be farm raised crap or imported junk! Or, No-ah, we will not stop until every US commercial fisherman is on the unemployment line! Apparently it’s ok for foreign countries to overfish every fish possible so that they can ship the cheap imported seafood into the US, while the US fisherman can’t even keep a fish with an obviously strong stock like the red snapper. The irony would be comical if the situation were not so threatening to the livelihood of so many fishermen and their families. The other aspect that’s about as funny as a kick in the junk is the negative impact on the entire recreational fishing and tourist industries, from hotels to equipment manufacturers and retailers to the angler who can’t keep enough fish to feed a family of four. The whole situation is just a giant steaming pile of sh#%!!

Now, you may be wondering why I’m so wound up this month… Besides the obvious grouper and snapper closures and the various fisheries dis-services being puppeteered by the enviro-nazis, I had the “privilege” of attending one of the SAFMC scoping meetings. “Scoping” is a very interesting choice of words because these meetings are very similar to a doctors appointment that us guys over forty years of age have the “privilege” of enduring and I’m not talking about the simple turn-and-cough. The is a very apropos analogy because the fisheries services and the environmentalists are both a cancer that is going to kill a very viable and sustainable industry. The bottom line is that by the time the council has these “scoping” meetings, they have already made up their minds as to what they are going to do. You better get acquainted with their “preferred alternative” because somewhere it is already set in stone! The “scoping” is just the warning to take your pants down and get ready…

Again, “Sorry Mom”. I better go ahead and put the soap box away before some guys in black suits and dark sunglasses come knocking at my door.

But really, there’s still the old kingfish! There still around, they’re fun to catch and you can still keep them. Last month, the kingfishing was pretty much off the Richter Scale. The main concentration of fish was located on 8a reef, but there were some fish scattered on Cris Benson and from the Lumps down thru Pelican Flats. The fish were averaging about twelve pounds, but there were some fish caught over thirty and up to almost fifty pounds. In addition to the kings, there were some dolphin, cobia, blackfin tuna and sailfish. The problem with the fish other than the kings was the sheer number of kings made it hard to get a bait to anything else. When the kingfish are schooled up in these large numbers, they are very aggressive.

The key to the kingfishing this month will be water temperatures. If the temps stay above the 70 degree mark, the fish might just stay right where they have been. If so the fishing will be red hot just like last month. Once the fish are located, you shouldn’t have to do anything other than drift dead sardines on stinger rigs. If you want to see some really crazy action, stop and get some threadfins or greenies on the way to the reef. Be careful though, you may just have a king jump right in the boat. If you want to target some of the other pelagics,  try slow trolling outside the schooling the kings. Try fishing a half mile or more away from the schools so your bait will have a better chance to find a dolphin, tuna or sail. Your best bet for the cobia on the reef will be the cobia swimming up to boatside while you’re drifting, so have the jig rod handy.

As far as trolling goes, the water has been good in as far as 70 feet. There have been numerous sails jumping from just offshore of the reef on out. There have also been scattered dolphin and wahoo starting in as close as 75 feet. If you’re planning to troll ballyhoo, make sure and start outside the kingfish grounds as they will eat you out of ballyhoo in a hurry. Try fishing some naked ballyhoo on the flat lines. short riggers and around the teasers for the dolphin and sails. Use the ballyhoo combined with lures on the long riggers or downriggers for the wahoo.

Personally, I don’t think Mother Teresa would have the patience to go bottom fishing right now… But, if you think you can stand throwing back grouper and snapper all day for a chance to keep an amberjack, be my guest.

Once again, it’s “Take the Council Fishing Month”, so do your part.. Return trip optional of course…

See ya on the pond!!!