What's hot: Bottom fishing offshore this time of year takes a little more planning than in cooler months. The water temperature is climbing, and the grouper will be feeding more slowly. The best advice is get on the water early. Grouper and snapper are the most active from early in the morning until early afternoon, then pick up from late afternoon until dark. Using live bait is imperative.
Tactics: Locating these fish also is more difficult this time of year because winds that come with storms and fronts prompt them to spread out on the hard-bottom areas in search of food. Sometimes, you find an area covered with grouper and snapper and loaded with bait. Then the next time, it is a desert.
Tips: Surprisingly, there have been scattered areas in shallower water with red and gag grouper. It is unusual this time of year, but because of all the bait schools in 60-90 feet, there have been fish there. Last week, we never fished outside of 105 feet and had a great day catching mangrove and lane snapper, gag and red grouper up to 18 pounds, and blackfin tuna. Lastly, make sure to have a good idea what the weather is doing. Afternoon thunderstorms can catch you by surprise.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.
Stephen F. Holder