What's hot: With gag grouper season over, our offshore focus turns to red grouper. Look for concentrations of fish to move to shallower water near Sarasota. Live baits still produce the best bites. But as water temperatures fall with every passing cold front, more and larger fish spend less energy chasing live baits, preferring instead frozen baits such as threadfin, sardines and squid.
Other targets: Kingfish continue to move south toward the warmer water off Key West. The bite here has been slow. But another cold front or two will give kingfish in northern gulf waters the incentive to head our way. As always, live baits are the key for larger fish. But anglers trolling hardware around the St. Petersburg Reef and other large structures in shallow water have caught good numbers of schoolie-sized fish along with large Spanish mackerel.
Wreck fishing: Amberjack also continue their migration this month. Look for them around wrecks in 60-100 feet. Areas such as the Sulphur Barge, Fin Barge and Blackthorn will hold keeper-sized fish as well as some heavier than 50 pounds. Almost any large live bait will do the trick, but a large blue runner typically finds the biggest fish.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.