Grouper: Great gag catches are coming at depths between 60-500 feet. During warmer months live baits outproduce frozen baits. As the season continues look for large schools to be found well north of the bay area, as far as Bayport. Each cold front that comes through will push these fish farther south.
Bluewater fishing: Under the masses of sargasso weeds west of John's Pass in 80-300 feet are eager mahimahi. These fish grow about an inch per week and will reach the 20-pound range in their first year. They rarely turn down a small piece of sardine, but if it does happen, try a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce bucktail jig. The erratic action gets their attention.
Other species: Amberjack have been holding on most structures in depths of 130 feet or more. This will continue through the next few months as they make their way east for the winter months. Live baits will work, but artificials are best. Butterfly jigs, buck-tail jigs or fast-moving swimbaits will draw strikes.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.