What's hot: With falling water temperature and acres of baitfish making their way to nearshore waters, expect the gag grouper migration to peak with the next two or three cold fronts. Scattered fish can be found as shallow as 40 feet, but the consistent bite will be in depths greater than 100 feet.
Tactics: Recently we started on a few ledges with great fish shows in 60-70 feet. The catch was less than impressive. Ninety to 100 feet produced a better bite. Finally, a small break was reached at 120 feet, where a half-dozen gags in the 10- to 15-pound range and mangrove snappers 4 to 6 pounds were landed. Running and gunning is one of the best ways to find fish offshore. In most cases, bottom species such as snapper and grouper let you know within minutes if they are there.
Other targets: Cobia have made their way into the area about a month early. Target them by either sight casting or fishing live baits on the bottom. In most cases, these curious fish will swim up to the back of an anchored boat and can be caught easily with a medium to heavy spinning rod and a live pinfish. While fishing a wreck in 150 feet last week, however, these fish were successfully targeted with live baits on the bottom on the uptide side of the structure.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.