Cold water temps: Cold fronts have hampered action offshore for a few days. When things calm down, expect reports of grouper to come from 65 feet of water and deeper. After a series of cold fronts like these, the temperature in shallow water drops dramatically, halting action. Out about 20 miles you'll see a difference. Bottom fish will be more attentive to your offerings because temps are not as low.
Gag grouper: We have been catching our fair share of big gags at many of our favorite spots in 90 feet of water. Some fish have weighed more than 15 pounds. The only problem with these deeper areas is the abundance of red snapper, which aggressively attack baits intended for grouper.
Big fish: Giant amberjack are available on many wrecks and springs 80 feet and deeper. The farther you travel, the better the fishing will be. These jacks seem to be bigger at deeper spots, too. Our biggest jack recently weighed 55 pounds. We had a wild bite from jacks and grouper a day before the cold weather arrived. In less than an hour, my clients boated 1,000 pounds of fish. Amberjack will take up a big part of our time during the grouper closure in federal waters next month. Live bait and jigs will be the biggest components for success. The new-style flat chrome jigs have been a big hit along our coast.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, jawstoo.com or (727) 595-3276.