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trolling offshore tampa area

Old 06-13-2019, 11:02 AM
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Default trolling offshore tampa area

how far out do you have to go off pinellas county (north of the mouth of tampa bay) to catch billfish? i'm thinking trolling dead rigged ballyhoo with skirts and sea witches.

i have seen there are canyons out there, but they are WAY out there. are marlin, swords or sails any closer?

and if sails are around closer to shore, do people kite fish for them or how are they targeting these species?

really i am not as much of a bottom fisherman, so curious what types of pelagics are around here that you can raise with a spread of trolling baits or other surface methods.
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:14 PM
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Go to the east coast
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:15 PM
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Everything that you need to know about trolling for pelagics off this coast is in this thread:

anyone trolling the steps or elbow or middle grounds in the gulf?

The first thing to know is to get that credit card warmed up for the fuel pump!
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:23 PM
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We actually saw a sailfish 15 miles off of Pasco county one day. Shocked the hell out of us. I have heard that people have caught them in the shipping channel. But it is so far from a sure thing, it’s not worth targeting at all. If you’re not making 100+ mile runs each way, you’re not blue water fishing in the gulf. Drive over to the east coast.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:38 PM
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Pelagic fishing where it’s actually sensible to target them with traditional south florida/east coast methods? 80 miles minimum. And there are guys that say the middle grounds aren’t really reliable for this type of fishing. The steps are 120+ miles but that’s if you launch from a port south of where you are right now. More like 140-150 mile run.

Theres a period in the spring where I know guys target blackfin tuna inside of 10 miles but I don’t know the timing or secret to all that. Have heard of decent kingfish in close and have wondered if kite fishing for them might make sense here, haven’t heard of anyone doing it.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:42 PM
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A long damn way
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Burgmane View Post
Theres a period in the spring where I know guys target blackfin tuna inside of 10 miles but I don’t know the timing or secret to all that. Have heard of decent kingfish in close and have wondered if kite fishing for them might make sense here, haven’t heard of anyone doing it.
Blackfin (and others) are definitely a possibility in the Spring without the looong run and Kings on the kite is a blast, but otherwise bottom fishing pretty much rules around here. But you can troll for Grouper if you want.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:44 AM
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We have caught a few sails inside of 30 miles but rare and never trolling. Caught plenty of blackfins 100-120' and I think you can target them in that range depending on bait and time of year.

The 50-60 mile mark will on occasion have nice breaks and weeds allowing for trolling and we have had good days with wahoo, mahi, and blackfins in this range -- excellent bottom too. We have a bowl shaped rock at 53ish miles where we have caught some fine wahoo and tuna on flatlines, in addition to true black grouper, muttons etc.

I consider the Elbow to be the start of "real" blue water and have targeted pelagics trolling there many times. Soon as our steering is fixed we will get back there. When you get about 10 miles from the eastern edge of the Elbow, be alert. Sometimes, that is where the action is on top and bottom and the Elbow is slow to dead.

Yes, you have a much better shot at YFT and marlin in 700' and beyond but saying you cannot target pelagics short of the Steps, the Peaks or the Box is not my experience.

Good luck.


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Old 06-14-2019, 08:54 AM
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As a follow-up, this thread got me to thinking about the late guide and war hero Larry Huff Hoffman. www.tributes.com/obituary/show/Larry-A.-Hoffman-85471845

Larry called the 50 mile mark "tuna ally" and was a pioneer in blue water fishing here.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:52 PM
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I have caught sails in 50' of water off St Pete but it's not often enough to target them close in.
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Old 06-15-2019, 07:36 PM
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If your boat has wheels, that is your best bet for pelagic action. Trailer south to the keys or to the east coast for consistent pelagic action. I used to trailer my Pursuit all across the state until my health shut that scene down. It's funny, guys on the other coast talk about the great bottom fishing we have here on the Gulf coast & we are jealous they can run 4 miles and be in the stream. Not to say they don't have good bottom fishing on the other coasts, but we do have some great bottom here.

This time of year the water can get warm and you need to run far, but fall, winter & spring are great here. I tell my out-of-town friends who want me to take them fishing, "Thanksgiving & Easter" are great time of year to mark on your calendar.

I know this is off-topic, but it seems like you may be new to the area so I added my $.02

Catchem up,
Vince
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:00 PM
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I’m in the same boat as you, no pun intended, and is slowly but surely learning the bottom fishing thing. It is just as much of a hunt as marlin fishing, but your target is the fish finder, rather than the birds and action on the surface. Yes, I have blown hundreds of gallons of fuel trying to catch them without much luck, but I will never give up. Everything else here is too good to give up for a few billfish’s a year.

Went out yesterday and had a bunch of seasick anglers so I started the troll back in. Sure enough caught a nice tuna using my Caribbean billfish setup. Plenty of fish here, but numbers (read spots) are the most important thing.
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