What's hot: Kingfish are at the center of the offshore scene, but they are not our only targets at this time of year. Grouper and snapper are outstanding in most depths, but action has been consistent in 90-110 feet. While concentrating on small ledges and rock piles in these depths recently, we were rewarded with big red grouper and some of the year's largest mangrove snapper. Large schools of juvenile Spanish sardines have taken residence on these hard-bottom areas and will help keep these fish there for at least a few more weeks.
Tactics: Anchoring accurately is critical when targeting grouper, which seldom stray far from the protection of their rocky lair. If a marker buoy is used, set it to the right depth because too much slack in the line will cause the buoy to miss its mark. If you are more than 20 feet from the marker, a second try is necessary.
Tips: A variety of live baits can make a good day better. Use a No. 8 Sabiki rig and tip it with small pieces of squid for faster results.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.