Without a traditional bluewater charter fleet or even very many private boats venturing out this far into the Gulf of Mexico, it’s critical to begin each trip knowing where productive water can be located. Once on the fishing grounds, many captains prefer to begin their search with a spread of artificial lures, because they can be trolled at faster speeds. This allows captains to cover ground and locate the eddies, rips and boundary currents that can lead to good fishing. Once good water is found, dead bait like ballyhoo and mackerel is then deployed and trolled at slower speeds. A ‘mixed-bag’ spread can equally target blue and white marlin, sailfish, yellowfin and blackfin tuna, wahoo and more. Versatility is key because these trips also can span several days and nights offshore.