Notices

Trolling for grouper in Tampa Bay

Old 09-23-2013, 01:16 PM
  #1  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 52
Default Trolling for grouper in Tampa Bay

Would like to try and troll for grouper in the shipping channels..Only problem? I've never done it. Any tips tricks or helpful knowledge out there? Especially, what # test line to use, how close do I need to be to Skyway for a legitimate shot, how far in or out of the shipping channels do I need to be, etc. Any advice for this newbie would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
teed off is offline  
Old 09-23-2013, 01:20 PM
  #2  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Tampa Florida
Posts: 1,453
Default

I have done it at least a dozen times. I used both planners and downriggers

that being said, I caught gag grouper, I never caught a legal size one. they get hit real hard

i have fished the edges and i have fished right down the middle of the channel

usually fish west side of bridge, be careful by the first green buoy past the bridge, you will ALWAYS get hung up
devildogdad is offline  
Old 09-24-2013, 01:29 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Tampa, FL; 83 Mako 22
Posts: 3,309
Default

Troll with conventional tackle. I like the Penn Senator 113H, Daiwa Sealine 450H or a good lever drag reel like the TLD 20II spooled with 30 or 40lbs mono and a 60lbs leader. Join the mainline to the leader with a ball-bearing swivel or snap swivel, not a barrel swivel. I don't like braid for trolling because it has little or no stretch and you want the stretch to keep from ripping the hook out of the grouper's mouth when it strikes or when you hang on the bottom.

1. Large lip plugs like Rapala CD-18 & 22, Mann's Stretch 25 & 30, Bomber Jointed Long A... are all favorites. Tie directly to the leader.

2. Troll at 4mph, no faster. Once you hook a fish, keep the boat in gear and start reeling in. If you stop doing either, the grouper will run to the bottom and hang you up.

3. Troll in a pattern using your chart plotter. Outside the Skyway, troll parallel to the bridge working your way out and back. Be watchful of ALL boat traffic. Mark spots where you get strikes.

4. Inside the bridge, troll along the shipping channel, again using your FF and GPS carefully. Heck, here blind trolling will get you gouper. My best grouper hole was in 15' of water!

5. Keep track of the tide & current and your results. There are times when grouper are more likely to strike than others.

Hope that helps a bit...

PB
Prop Blast is offline  
Old 09-26-2013, 09:43 AM
  #4  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 52
Default

Awesome! Thanks so much
teed off is offline  
Old 09-26-2013, 04:11 PM
  #5  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
OffshoreApparel.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,444
Default

Good info above. We used to troll out there all the time, edges are best and near the rubble. Once you find the rubble piles, u could catch one on every pass. I found planars, 15-18 ft of leader behind it and a jig head w largest white grub tail you can find
worked best. Worked better and Much cheaper than loosing an expensive plug. We would catch plenty and bring one keeper home for dinner every wknd.

Running with tide is the key.


Good luck.
OffshoreApparel.com is offline  
Old 09-27-2013, 05:06 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: tampa, fl usa
Posts: 189
Default

got this info on shallow water grouper trolling:

Getting back to this week's targeted fish, Mr.Gag Grouper. I am glad we have plenty of grouper in the bay. I will tell you about some of my favorite spots and what I use to catch nice keeper Gags. The Skyway Shipping channel is loaded with keeper size Gag Grouper. When fishing the shipping channel using mono, I'll troll a #4 size planer and if I am using Braided line, I go to a #3 planer. The reason I switch planers from one to the other is because I have learned by using mono the line stretches and by the line stretching you need a bigger planer to go down deeper. When using Braided line the line doesn't stretch and it cuts threw the water making the planer dig deeper. Both work the same and it's all preference of the angler. The bait of choice for me is the Kingfish spoons. I like to put a Gold spoon on one side then a Silver on the other. Depending on the strike, I will change to just one color. I also use plugs and Jig heads with a grub tail. The bigger the Grub tail the better. The color for me doesn't matter, as long as I have a dark color on one side and a light color on the other. Depending on the strike, I make changes during the day. My favorite place on the shipping channel is between Channel marker Red 4A trolling to 6A then come back on Green marker 5A to 3A. I will troll back and forth. The magic depth of water that I like to troll is between 30 feet to 32 feet of water. Another great productive place to catch big numbers of Grouper is off Anna Maria Island better know as "Bean Point". I use the same lures and spoons. I like the incoming tide but they will eat as long as the tide is moving. When you hear a Captain catching Keeper grouper in 10 to 12 feet of water in the bay, most likely they are fishing the Port of Manatee channel. There, I use strictly live bait. The bait of choice is pinfish. When you go down the port of manatee channel keep an eye on your bottom machine. The water will go from 40 feet to 10 feet in less than 3 yards away, once you get out of the channel. That's a Big Drop off. Anchoring off the channel depends on which direction the tide is flowing. If there is an incoming tide, I will anchor on the West side of the channel and if it's an outgoing I will anchor on the East side of the channel. The trick to fishing there is to have your bait right on the drop off. So you want to anchor on the shallow water and throw your bait right on the drop off. I have attempted to draw the scenario on the computer. I hope you can understand my chicken scratch drawing on the computer. There are plenty of BIG keeper grouper there. Here are some pictures of the spoons and Jig heads that I use. The picture with the single fish is a 34" Grouper caught by trolling a Gold Spoon off channel Marker 4A today. I barely passed the channel and the fish got on !!
I got my limit in 2 hours. We caught 4. The smallest Grouper was 30". We also caught a 33" that came out 10 yards away from where we caught the 34". I was fishing in 32 feet of water. All the fish but one hit the gold spoon. The other fish ate the silver spoon. Like I previously stated, there are plenty of keeper grouper in the bay. Don't be afraid to try new things while out fishing. Anyone on the right day with the right tide can go and catch keeper grouper in the bay. I have seen a 13 foot whaler trolling the channel and hooking up some nice Gags. There are plenty of different species of fish in the bay and my goal is to target a different species every week. Of coarse that will be Weather permitting. Hope everyone has a safe and dry weekend. I have tried numerous times to upload the drawing that I did for the port of Manatee but it did not want to work.
miss_rach is offline  
Old 09-27-2013, 05:53 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SWFLA
Posts: 1,854
Default

I use braid 100% and have caught dozens of gags and reds over the last five years. You have to use braid if you're trolling in deeper water say over 30'.
Eye8atoad is offline  
Old 09-27-2013, 06:03 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Bradenton FL
Posts: 2,107
Default

Gags are already moving in. That's when the shipping channel really gets loaded.

Spearfishing in 45fsw last week I was overlooking keepers to find the slobs.
lazyboi1212 is offline  
Old 09-29-2013, 06:38 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: So Fla
Posts: 323
Default

Have done it a couple of times with good success over the past few years. We used all braid pulling mann stretch 25 & 30's. As stated above once you get a hook up do not stop. Just reel them in. White/Red and green/bonito where the most productive colors.

We fished west of the bridge. Most consistent area was south of the channel. We ran a zig zag pattern from the edge of the channel to 100' outside of the channel. Last 3 markers seemed to be the best.

Good luck.
mike_s is offline  
Old 10-01-2013, 01:41 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 820
Default

Tried this for the first time on Sunday and got totally skunked. We trolled from the first green marker west of Skyway out past Egmont Key. We ran parallel to the channel, about halfway up the slope, at about 33-38 feet depth. Started at 9am, about an hour after high tide, and ran outwards with the tide at 4-5 mph. We tried a Stretch 25, a #2 planer with silver Clark spoon, and a #3 planer with a red and white bucktail jig. Got one Spanish Mack. After about 2 hours we gave it up and went out to the reef.

Any advice on what we were doing wrong? Judging from line angle, we weren't getting the stretch 25 down deep enough. It was on 50lb mono, so maybe I should use a braid topshot? But the planers looked to be getting pretty deep.

After that, while heading to the St Pete Beach reef, we saw some frigate birds about 5 miles offshore and went to take a look. Found 4 huge cobia feeding under a patch of floating grass. Unfortunately we weren't rigged for it and didn't really know what to do. We tried trolling past them with a spoon and a stretch on the surface but that didn't work. What should we have done ... sight casted with live bait and popping cork?
Ed54 is offline  
Old 10-01-2013, 03:23 PM
  #11  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,211
Default

I've been catching keeper gags even in the summer heat inside of the skyway. Don't troll in the channel. Troll the edges and watch your bottom machine. I use 25 or 30+ plugs trolling at 5 to 6 mph. I hook up 10 to 1 on the incoming tide vs the falling tide. Put your time in on the channel edges (not just the main ship channel) and you'll figure it out.

On the Cobia, if you don't have a live bait they will eat a soft plastic eel in a heartbeat.
23Dorado is offline  
Old 10-01-2013, 03:47 PM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 820
Default

Thanks. Are you trolling with the tide, eg away from the Skyway? How far inside the Skyway do you start, and how far up the bay do you go? Are you running parallel to the channel along the edge, or making some kind of pattern to find the rubble piles?
Ed54 is offline  
Old 10-01-2013, 03:56 PM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: South Florida
Posts: 576
Default

Originally Posted by 23Dorado View Post
I've been catching keeper gags even in the summer heat inside of the skyway. Don't troll in the channel. Troll the edges and watch your bottom machine. I use 25 or 30+ plugs trolling at 5 to 6 mph. I hook up 10 to 1 on the incoming tide vs the falling tide. Put your time in on the channel edges (not just the main ship channel) and you'll figure it out.

On the Cobia, if you don't have a live bait they will eat a soft plastic eel in a heartbeat.

For the eel do we just put a decent sized circle hook through the head and should I add a weight of any sort to get it out to them? Sorry for what are probably stupid questions, but cobia are completely new to me.
JOMC is offline  
Old 10-01-2013, 08:07 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: So Fla
Posts: 323
Default

Originally Posted by Ed54 View Post
Thanks. Are you trolling with the tide, eg away from the Skyway? How far inside the Skyway do you start, and how far up the bay do you go? Are you running parallel to the channel along the edge, or making some kind of pattern to find the rubble piles?
Sorry, i dont recall what the tide was. We were going away from the bridge and were well (100-150ft) out of the channel. The braid helps because it lets them run deeper, although its a pain in the azz to handle when trolling. Watch your depth finder closely for the rock piles. Its pretty flat so there's not much relief, but its there.

Once you get a hit, hit the MOB button and work the area.

Hope this helps.
mike_s is offline  
Old 10-02-2013, 02:51 PM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,133
Default

I found fishing fairly shitty around St. Pete on Sunday. I could SEE the fish but they weren't biting. Wonder if it was just an off day and you weren't necessarily doing anything wrong.
Jim311 is offline  
Old 10-03-2013, 06:19 AM
  #16  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3,175
Default

Originally Posted by JOMC View Post
For the eel do we just put a decent sized circle hook through the head and should I add a weight of any sort to get it out to them? Sorry for what are probably stupid questions, but cobia are completely new to me.
i use a jig head and rig it like i would a rubber worm for bass fishing.
Dookie30 is offline  
Old 10-12-2013, 01:36 PM
  #17  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 820
Default

Got my first grouper today. Tried trolling with stretches offshore around 7 mile reef and Misener barge. Got one barracuda. Came in around noon and trolled for about 15 minutes along the shipping channel under the Skyway. Started on first can to the east and stopped at ICW. Was pulling my line in to go home and there was a keeper gag on it.

So how the heck do I tell if I've got a fish?
Ed54 is offline  
Old 11-07-2014, 11:03 PM
  #18  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 5
Default Way to go.,

Glad you caught one. Congratulations.
sfdf0623 is offline  
Old 11-08-2014, 05:45 PM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NewPortRichey, FL, USA
Posts: 1,425
Default

Vance Tice, who is the godfather of trolling the ditch, (I worked with him at Tightlines Tackle and fished with him numerous times) tells me to troll on a slack tide. 1 hour before or after. He trolls a lot on the edge of the green side but has a lot of numbers on the red side too. He uses downriggers, 4 or 6 oz jigs with a large grub tail and use #32 rubber bands for his release mechanism. 50# Momoi Diamond on Tekota 700. Watch your bottom machine and troll the top of the channel. It's 24' Set your downrigger at 24' and the blow-back at 4 MPH will raise the weight off the bottom, but the weight of the jig will bring the lure back into the grouper's face. If the water is dirty, he uses the large Rattle Traps. He does consult trips and will bring all the equipment, teach you how to use it and will load his numbers into your GPS. Just make sure your rod holders are thru bolted and backed.
Jack Hexter is offline  
Old 11-09-2014, 04:16 AM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Tampa
Posts: 2,273
Default

My preferred area was parallel to the bridge along the north west side. Where the old bridge rubble is. Also troll right up against the dolphins and bridge structure. Pull lines in close and have some experience before you try that. And only on calm flat days when the current isn't ripping. And along the shipping channel from first channel markers inside the skyway to past the port manatee turn. I've had luck with and against the current at about 1100 rpms . Making s turns from 25-45 ft. I'd pull manns 25 & buck tailed jigs 10- 20 ft behind # 2 and #3 planners. Look for the rod tips to bounce indicating that the tackle was in the zone. I've had zero luck with down riggers.

On good days I'm bringing in 3-6 keepers. On bad days I'm losing $100 of terminal tackle.
787337 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread