Head for deep water, but know where you’re goin’

Whenever the winds allow, the Gulf of Mexico blue water action is superb. There has been a lot of fresh water coming down the Mississippi River. Even so, there are good numbers of the deepwater fish cruising around out there, and they seem to be ever hungry. It is important to keep in mind that there are certain fish species that prefer blue water while others will be in the blue-green water. This situation will have a bearing on just how far out into the gulf it is necessary to go in order to locate your favorite fish species.

Whenever the offshore anglers head out, it is always a toss-up as to just how far they must go. Sometimes the blue water is only 25 to 30 miles out. At other times, even 40 miles is not far enough to find it. This type of water is necessary for such fish as amberjack, tuna, wahoo, grouper, big red snapper or billfish. King mackerel also prefer the deeper blue water, but they may also be numerous in the blue-green water, as will the red snapper and also the ling and vermillion snapper. There are also a large number of sharks that may be around in not only the deep blue water, but also all the way inshore into the not so clear water. Redfish seem to have invaded much of the offshore gulf, but keep in mind that it is illegal to retain a red fish of any size in federal waters. In my opinion this regulation has been in effect for far too many years. It seems that once a regulation is passed, it never gets changed.

Beginning where the water begins to break from sandy to green, there will be some fishable oilrigs nearby. Should snapper or ling be what you are primarily after, then by all means give these structures a try, at least. Many times I’ve been catching some big snapper and ling around rigs or other structure just past the 18 Mile Light and see other boats blow on past. Some of them could be going for the blue water fish, but I’m sure that most were after what we were catching.

I recommend that the folks that go what I call “rig hopping” check the area for baitfish. It is also likely that the game fish will show up on a depth finder, too. One corner of the rig will normally show both the bait and the predator fish. It is usually the corner that is down current of the tidal flow. That’s not always the case. That is the reason it is prudent to circle the structure a time or two before setting upDon’t do anything to interfere with the work going on around a working rig. I’ve also learned that many times the better action might be out away from the rig or other submerged structure. Rather than putting your offering right on the rigs leg or on top of a submerged rock or other structure, cast away from it. It seems that the larger fish tend to hang just off the main schools of fish.

Should there be no action at your initial stop, then don’t waste your daylight hanging around very long. There are a lot of other places to try, and usually one or more of them will be productive.

There are a number of lures that will take both snapper and ling, but most of the offshore folks will take along plenty of natural bait. Squid, cigar minnows and cut bait are good choices, but I have found that live croaker or any other live bait that makes the croaking sound to be much superior. That is especially the case when going after big red snapper and ling.

Out in the blue water, the natural or live bait is prime, but those tackle busters out there will readily take lures most of the time. Big feather jigs, spoons and big diving lures are good choices. Just be sure that the lures as well as the fishing tackle are of good quality. Fishing around rigs or other structure requires the angler to be able to keep the hooked fish away from the barnacle covered areas. These will cut a line much as a razor blade would. I use a steel rubber-coated leader in such places. Sometimes it saves the fish and at other times the fish will make it into his home and cut the line anywayTrolling is very popular when heading after king mackerel. There are various lures that work well for king. Usually some sort of spoon will do the job. Here again, use a good leader. The king is capable of cutting your line without barnacles. Good places for not only king but also snapper and ling are around anchored shrimp boats. The big fish feed on their cull from their nets, but so will the sharks.

Offshore fishing is just super hereabouts. Learn the area or hire a guide and enjoy some breathtaking action. There are some boats in Galveston that offer super offshore trips. Be sure to learn where the state water ends and the federal water begins. The regulations are not the same in most cases. 

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