Well, it’s a brand new year. So why does everything feel the same as it did in 2010?
I guess I’m going to renew my resolution to stop procrastinating for the coming year. It worked so well before… I mean, I’m only two weeks past the deadline writing this article. Either the editor is a glutton for punishment or just a really nice guy, ‘cuz my ass should have been canned a loooong time ago. If I had to lay odds, I’d say he is a little of both, but I’m lucky my ramblings aren’t printed on note cards and stuffed into the paper like a subscription renewal card in a magazine. Next month I’ll have it done on time, I swear!
One good thing to celebrate for the new year is the fact that we dodged the large area closure alternative in Amendment 17a. Unfortunately, we are still unable to retain the elusive red snapper. On the subject of S.S.D.D., how can the NMFS data be so far off on the red snapper populations? The recent stock assessment allowed them to drop the large area closure, but we are still not allowed to fish for red snapper? I call bullsh*t! I think they’re just covering their asses while pissing on our heads and telling us it’s raining. Time for a change…
Although we are allowed to fish, there’s not a whole lot you can do bottom fishing. The red snapper are going to be closed for what looks like at least two more years and the grouper are closed through April. That leaves us with amberjack and bucket fish. By bucket fish I mean sea bass, triggerfish, and assorted snappers that are not on the endangered species list. The amberjack should be scattered from 27 fathoms on out the cones and deep wrecks. Both live bait and jigs should work well for these arm stretchers. If you want to have some fun on the reefs from 23 fathoms inshore to 60?, try downsizing your tackle and filling a bucket full of little guys. Try using a spinning rod and a chicken rig with a 1/0 to 3/0 hook and a small strip of cut bait. Besides black bass and triggers, you might catch some porgies and lane or yellowtail snappers.
The best bets for the month of January will also be found on the inshore reefs. The kingfish bite in December was blistering, and conditions permitting, January should bring much of the same. Troll plugs or spoons until the fish are located, then switch to slow-trolled live bait or frozen sardines. Once you find the fish, your limit will come in a hurry. Mixed in and around the kings, you have a good chance of catching a cobia, blackfin tuna, or a wahoo. Also, while fishing inshore, keep an eye out for manta rays. They have been hanging inshore of the reef on temperature breaks, color changes, and around bait pods. If you see one, be ready with the jig or live bait, because chances are he’s loaded with cobia.
If you prefer to troll for sportfish, your best bet is going to be the sailfish. The hotspot as of late seems to be the area southeast of the Port and northeast of Sebastian Inlet between 140? and 200?. Naked ballyhoo trolled in close proximity to a mullet dredge should do the trick. In addition to the sails, there’s a good chance to catch a dolphin, wahoo, or blackfin tuna. If you want to target wahoo, use a lure/ballyhoo combo rigged on a wire leader. Troll this rig way back on the shotgun or down on the downrigger.
Gotta go so I can start writing next month’s article…
See ya on the pond!!