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Captain’s Corner: Cooler weather lures decent gag grouper

By Dave Mistretta, Times Correspondent

Mild temperatures have allowed anglers to get out and explore many areas. Cooler weather has lured decent gag grouper. We expected them to arrive in the past month, and they havenít disappointed. Numerous rocks in 20- to 120-foot depths seem to be holding a few nice gags. Also, many anglers have switched their heavier tackle for some light action. As winter approaches, it becomes a good time to target hog snapper with a bottom-fishing strategy of using small crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Hog snappers wander onto many of the same places you target grouper. They are not as aggressive, so they often wait for the grouper and grunt action to calm down. Thatís when they ease over and grab a shrimp piece pegged to the bottom. Keeping small baits close to the bottom at all times is key. This different approach to bottom fishing allows the timid hog snapper to sniff out where the shrimp is hiding. They put up a great fight on 20-pound test line. Kingfish have been found wherever you go. Look for the bait activity and thatís where the kings will be. Until we get a large cold front, expect this type of fishing to be quite consistent.

Dave Mistretta captains Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.