What's hot: With the water temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s, fishing offshore for gag grouper is becoming more difficult. The best bet for action is in depths of 90-160 feet. Most stops are producing only a few fish, so covering a large area with many spots is most productive. Despite warm temperatures, there have been many king mackerel caught in the past month. The best places are in depths of 80-120 feet over large wrecks, high-profile ledges and rockpiles that are holding bait.
Tips: When offshore, get out as early as possible. The morning bite will be strong until around 10, then in the afternoon the bite will pick up and usually last until sundown. A well full of fresh live baits will help get bites.
Tackle: Standard wire rigs and slow trolled live baits are producing fish as large as 40 pounds. These same areas are a great place to catch blackfin tuna and mahi-mahi as well. Permit are also holding on many of the offshore wrecks. A medium size live pass crab is a hard bait to beat. Due to the lack of teeth, the permit can be coaxed into eating an offering on a light leader.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.