What's hot: Cooler water has prompted a near-shore gag grouper bite. Depths as shallow as 15 feet are holding keeper-sized gags. Use frisky live baits such as pinfish, grass grunts or squirrel fish to ward off the smaller red grouper and entice the larger gags. Work small ledges using a combination of dead bait and live bait. Frozen threadfins or sardines help create activity, then once you catch a couple of gags, undersized or not, drop down a live bait for a chance at bigger fish.
Pelagics: This past weekend's nearshore water temperatures were around 67 degrees, not optimal for big numbers of kingfish or mackerel. Look for the bulk of the kingfish to be 10 or more miles offshore.
Inshore: Big trout are beginning to stage up around spoil islands and deeper grass flats inside the passes. Outgoing tides in the morning have produced trout of more than 20 inches this week using free-lined live pilchards for bait.
Bait options: Swash channels along the beach are full of pilchards; look for high-diving pelicans inside of the swim buoys to mark the bait location.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail [email protected]