Winter Bottom Fishing On the Gulf
Capt. Dave Pinkham
December 15, 2010
Venice - Saltwater Fishing Report
Winter brings chilly nights and shortened daylight hours also the gulf's water temperature has dropped into the 60's.
This is a good time of year to concentrate your offshore efforts on grouper and snapper fishing. The key to producing these bottom dwellers is to locate some sort of structure that will hold them. The artificial reefs are a good place to start. Dumping piles of concrete bridge rubble and culvert pipe has created most of the artificial reefs west of this area. These man-made fish hotels offer plenty of cover and food for smaller baitfish. These smaller fish combined with the safety this bottom structure offers will often draw larger fish such as the groupers and snappers.
Anchoring over, or drift fishing these rock piles on the right day such as after a cold front like the one we just had may prove productive. The coordinates for the artificial reefs are provided by the county and can be picked up at the county registration office.
If you are fairly new to fishing on the Gulf these reefs can be a great training tool to help you get more accustomed to using your electronics aboard your boat. Once you locate the area of the reef with either a loran or GPS, check out the ocean floor with your fish finder. Note the difference between the surrounding sandy bottom area and the rock piles. The more familiar you get with your bottom machine and the way it shows the difference between sandy and hard bottom the better you will get at finding your own grouper holes.
I'd like to mention right here that these county reefs were paid for with tax money. Often you will see boats congregated fairly close together in these areas. Courteousness and common sense will tell you how close to approach other fisherman at these sights. Once you leave these given areas and venture out to look for your own grouper and snapper holes you should never approach other boats as close as you might around the artificial reefs.
Now that you know the difference between sandy and hard bottom on your fish finder it's time to start looking for your own fish. If you hear the grouper are hitting in 70' foot of water pick a compass heading and run out to 70' foot. Now turn on your fish finder and start looking. Steer clear of other boats at anchor fishing. Pulling up close to get their coordinates is the wrong thing to do. Who says they're catching fish anyway.
There's good bottom scattered all over the floor of the Gulf much of it comprised of pot holes, rocky ledges, coral and sea fan beds, sunken boat wrecks, and springs. All you have to do is look around a little and I'm sure with persistence you'll find your own secret honey holes.
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