What's hot: The shallow water grouper bite is very good in 10- to 30-foot depths off North Pinellas and Pasco counties. Though grouper season is closed to recreational anglers, fishing for these hard-fighting fish in water as shallow as 6-8 feet makes for an exciting trip. As grouper move into shallow water, anglers can use conventional tactics or a more inshore style.
Tactics: The most common techniques for grouper are trolling and bottom fishing. Trolling is done using a deep diving plug or a jig attached to a planer. Troll using a figure-eight pattern over the structure. Bottom fishing is best done by anchoring upcurrent and presenting live and dead baits downcurrent. Start by chumming both live and dead baits. Present baits to the bottom using weight, while free-lining baits so they stay higher in the water column.
Tackle: I like to use lighter 3000 and 4000 spin outfits when using live bait. Chumming will entice the grouper to rise in the water column away from the structure, which will aid you. When trolling I usually stick with the 20- to 50-pound conventional gear to handle the load produced by an explosive strike.
Seth Leto runs Pristine Fishing Charters out of Tarpon Springs. Call (727) 385-0382.