Grouper coming: Less than a week to go, and many anglers are planning their strategy for this weekend. The anticipation of the Friday opening is almost like kids at Christmas. Dogfish Tackle reports a lot of customers are stocking up on gear and changing lines. If you haven't started your preparations, now is the time.
Where are they? Where you begin your hunt will be limited only by how much fuel you plan to burn. We have found gags in as shallow as 38 feet. Deeper water generally produces bigger fish. But with a two-fish limit per angler, a long run offshore might not be worth it — or necessary. Any patch of hard bottom with some relief that holds baitfish should be good. If you find a small ledge or rock pile, drop a bait and hang on. There has been little pressure on gags because of the closure. They should be receptive to baits.
Spanish mackerel still close: Even though the water flowing out of John's Pass had a dark tint from the rain, there are a lot of schooling Spanish mackerel just off the beach. The sardines are still small near the bridge and hard to catch without making a mess of your cast net. Trolling small silver spoons near the surface at 5 knots should do the trick. Often, we use gold spoons when the water is very dark.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarryBlue.com.