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As we progress into the summer months, fishing in deeper water after 10 a.m.

is the rule. By this time water temperatures in the Indian River Flats will

reach 89 degrees making this fishing zone spotty at best. Tripletail will be

found in the deeper water as the heat rises. I have found prime time for

these guys to be 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Let's start by getting to know a little more about tripletail. In appearance

they kind of resemble overgrown panfish. Their colors are usually dark brown

with a grayish tint. The name is derived from it's appearance of having three

separate tails, hence the name tripletail. These fish usually start showing

up around April. At this time it's not uncommon to find smaller fish in the

2-4 lb class. I can recall last year in the St. Lucie Inlet seeing a school

of twenty or so tripletail this size entering the inlet on incoming tide.

Into the summer months, average size increases to 8 - 12 lbs with some

reaching well over 20. Their presence lasts until the water temperatures drop

in October. Tripletail can also be found offshore under weed lines or

floating debris.


Now that you know a little more about these fish, let's find

out how to catch them. It's really pretty easy, just depends on how sporty

with your tackle you become. On my charters I use ultra light Ugly Sticks

combined with Penn 4300 SS reels "loaded" with 6 lb test. This is getting

real sporty considering these tripletail are found very close to structure.

When I actually get hungry, light action Ugly Sticks with 12 lb on Penn 4500

SS does the trick. I really enjoy watching my clients hooked-up on

ultra-light. About 15 years ago I missed a world record on six # by four

lousy ounces, but still on the prowl. The average hookup on ultra-light is

around half an hour. Isn't this what it's all about?


Here's the important stuff, so listen up. About 75% of

tripletail caught on Catch 22 River fishing in the Stuart area are within a

twenty-foot radius of channel markers along the Indian River. The idea here

is to hit as many of these markers as possible. I never spend more than ten

minutes on any one marker when targeting these guys. Start casting about

50' away working a 20' circle around the marker using a slow retrieve. This

will cover the top of the water column and reducing the chance of spooking

top-level fish. Many times these guys in the summer can be seen lying

sideways on the surface. After covering this level, move in a bit closer

casting close or right on the marker letting your bait fall to the bottom.

Most of the markers in the Indian River are about eight feet or so. Once on

the bottom, lift your bait very slowly an inch and back down every ten

seconds. These tripletail down deep will not attack the bait. When lifting up

slowly, if you feel dead weight, count to three and stick it to him. Now the

fight begins!

Almost always after being hooked up they run away from your

boat and past the channel marker. This is why I never ever anchor when

targeting tripletail. You need to determine what direction he's heading and

avoid brushing your line against the piling which of course is encrusted with

razor sharp barnacles. Being able to move at this point is critical.

Sometimes I will even run right up to the marker after hooking up. This

allows you to play the fish off the structure. If you succeed, a most

enjoyable battle awaits. Even with my 12 lb setups, you could be looking at

half an hour. About one-fourth of tripletail will even jump once or twice

while putting on a show for you.

The other 25% of them can be found near crab traps and area

bridges. Many times I have located tripletail near the 25-cent bridge in

Stuart floating along with grass and seaweed. Bait-wise, I use cotee jigs

with red and green glittered cock-a-ho minnows on my cast and retrieve and

troll-rites and medium size shrimp on the bottom. Table fare is outstanding

making tripletail my favorite inshore fish to eat.

Finally I would like to thank "FISH GOD" and Lindsay Marine

in Stuart, Florida for getting me back in action. Just splashed my brand

spankin' new pontoon yesterday after a seven-week absence. My future reports

will be more specific as far as daily catches, times and locations.

Happy hunting,


Capt. Bob Bushholz

Catch 22 River Fishing

Jensen Beach, Fla.

(561) 225-6436




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