Recent conditions have been ideal for fishing: unseasonably warm, relatively light winds and calm seas. Those have made for a perfect winter, so far. When conditions are as favorable as they've been lately, it's easy to become complacent and not pay attention when weather changes. Today's forecast is for cooler temperatures and lots of wind. Please take care when making plans to head offshore during the winter. A prudent angler will remember the fish will always be there so plan your day carefully. Gag grouper season closes Jan. 1, but red grouper remains open. Catches for both have been spotty nearshore. However, some fairly good catches have been made with a mixed bag of grunts and other bottom-dwellers further out. Many anglers have been taking advantage of the calm conditions by targeting hog snapper. Just make sure you have a near-endless supply of fresh shrimp for bait. King and Spanish mackerel have surprised many area anglers lately. These fish are usually well south by now and celebrating New Year's in the Keys.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.