If the winds allow, get offshore to your secret rock pile or wreck armed with bait as well as lures.
Grouper, snapper, king and Spanish mackerel, bonito, cobia, sharks, and more are waiting for an easy picking, or a large lure trolled around and over your mark.
Drop-ping down frozen sardines, even squid can produce a whopper. All your baitfish, pinfish, threads, shiners and shrimp will be inhaled before touching bottom.
Capt. George Tunison
When trolling plugs around wrecks and reefs we like to stagger lures in the water column for different species. A large X-Rap running near the surface and a deep diving plug, such as a Mann's Stretch series digging near or contacting bottom is tempting to either bottom dwelling grouper or a near surface patrolling kingfish. This low-tech technique can produce amazing results offshore as well as inshore.
Slow trolling a Mann's and other big plugs around our river bridges can produce whopper snook as well as tarpon.
Mann's plugs come in several depth choices giving the angler a great tool to probe the bottom. Veteran plug trollers understand that allowing the plug to make intermittent bottom or structure contact without hanging up will trigger following fish that might ordinarily turn away or lose interest. Learning this technique and losing lures is part of the deal so don't get discouraged.
A serious inshore troller will carry a plug knocker of some type to save expensive plugs. I carry a pool cleaning extendable pole with a large hook rigged to the end which allows me to get back quite a few lures in as much as 15 feet of water.
One thing all successful trollers have in common is a full understanding of the use of their sonar devices.
When running offshore have rods rigged and ready to take advantage of opportunity situations like spotting cobia cruising on top, grabbing a pre rigged rod with a large colorful bucktail and making a cast before they disappear. Having a spinning rod rigged for casting a live shrimp to a trash can sized tripletail hanging out under a crab float. Preparation pays big dividends.
If you are having friends down that have never been salt tested or a pack of kids used to catching bluegills by all means grab a handful of jigs and topwater plugs and go lady fishing. Right now we are thick with jumbo ladyfish all looking to bite and show off their acrobatic skills.
When you find them bend down the barbs as four people can hook 100 an hour, so losing them is okay. Hundreds more are willing to play.
Save a few and bottom fish for sharks or cut them up in one-inch steaks and toss them under the bushes on a circle hook for a redfish treat. Free line a 12-inch live lady around any local bridge or river dock for a chance at a trophy lifetime snook or tarpon.
Trout fishing continues to improve as the waters cool down and more big trout are expected as in previous seasons.
Winter winds can be a problem so get out early for some of Florida's finest sight fishing.