High water temperatures nearshore have led to slow fishing for many inshore species. Lately, most offshore charter operators echo the same advice: The farther you go, the better the fishing. Gag and red grouper have been biting good in depths of 140 feet or more. On many of the flat, hard-bottom spots where sonar shows large fuzzy marks down deep, we've been catching a single giant red grouper but nothing else. Nibblers such as porgies and small vermilion snapper make up most of such indicators. The key to securing a good batch of grouper is to recognize that you might have caught the only good one on a spot and keep moving. Repeatedly retrieving an anchor at that depth can be cumbersome and discourage anglers from trying one-fish stops. For that reason we tow our anchor between spots. It takes practice to master, but it's beneficial. The key: keep track of your anchor compass heading and its reciprocal. When pulling off a spot, drive slightly right of straight up your anchor line, then continue past it. Once the rope is tight, it quickly snatches the anchor up and away from the bottom and you tow it to the next spot. To reset it, approach your desired spot from the exact opposite heading and stop just before it. The anchor falls to the bottom and, if you've done it right, you park directly over the fish.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected]