Considered by many to be the best eating inshore fish, tripletail melts in your mouth and is the classic white, flaky fish many anglers crave.
Now is the time to be checking crab trap buoys or just about anything that floats, like a log or even a dead fish, because a tripletail might be lurking underneath it.
Capt. Kris Robert, with One Last Cast Charters, targets the fish around crab trap buoys. He shared three great tips to catch more tripletail this summer.
1. Use 21-25 count shrimp or smaller
“For whatever reason, I’ve had big shrimp on the boat and pitched at them, pitched at them, pitched at them — and they’ll run right up to it, and then they kind of go away from it,” Robert said. “Somebody once told me they see that big shrimp with a big horn on it, and they don’t want to deal with that.
“All they’re feeding on is baby crabs and small shrimp that are coming through there or trying to hide out around that trap with them.”
2. When a tripletail goes deep, go down and get it
“If you go by a crab trap and the fish goes down, it really hasn’t gone anywhere. What I learned last year was to take a slip cork or a popping cork with maybe a 4-foot leader and slide it right past that crab trap, and they’ll come out of the depths and eat it,” Robert said. “He’s still hanging out down there — he’s not going anywhere.”
Robert typically uses only a 6- or 8-inch 20-pound leader and 40-pound braid to target tripletail floating up near the surface, along with a No. 3 kahle hook.
“I want to keep that shrimp as high up as long as possible. I don’t use a sinker or anything, just cast it out there,” Robert said. “I want that shrimp to be up high in the column so when it comes floating by that tripletail sees it. I don’t want it going down too deep if they’re floating on top.”
3. When you hook up, rip the fish away from cover ASAP
“A tripletail is similar to fishing for grouper or amberjack or lemonfish: If you catch one, you have to rip him out of that rig and start cranking down on him to get him away from that structure,” Robert explained. “Well, you have to do the same thing with tripletail to get him away from that trap.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve had people, and I tell them, ‘When you set the hook, rip him out of there.’ Tighten down your drag, rip him out of there, then once you get him away, you can loosen up the drag so he can start peeling off a little bit of line.”
Robert likes to get upcurrent of a fish he’s spotted, then just free-line the cork and shrimp back to within inches of the crab trap he’s targeting.
“All of a sudden, you’ll see that tripletail swim off and come upcurrent and grab the bait,” he said. “Then you just have to rip him away from that trap.”
BONUS TIP: Head out early
“If you’re leaving at noon targeting tripletail thinking the sun is at its highest point and you’ll be able to see them better, guess what? Guides are finishing their charters around 10 or 11 trying to get back, so the sun is up and we’re running those same traps on our way back in.
“We’re getting ready to beat them up on the way in, so by the time you launch the boat, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Editor’s Note: For more information, contact Capt. Kris Robert with One Last Cast Charters at 228-284-9502.