Gag grouper closing: The limited time to catch black or gag grouper has created an urgency among anglers. The season closes Tuesday.
Where are they? As the water temperatures have fallen with the most recent cold fronts, grouper have moved close to shore. Start your search in depths of 30 to 40 feet. Shallow-water fishing has proven to be excellent, a recent trip to 32 feet produced fish. However, 36 feet produced the best results as we boated five big gags on one stop in just 15 minutes. Sardine and squid combinations worked well, but large live pinfish were the bait of choice. Water clarity might be an issue. In dirty water, dead bait is best; in clean water, live bait works. According to tides4fishing.com; today's best fishing should be between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m.
The hunt for king mackerel: Several reports of kingfish around "The Ditch" had many people, including charter boat captains, heading south. Our most recent trip there was spotty, at best. But expect kingfish schools to be on the move from day to day. They might be in one spot on a particular day and the next they are in motion. The key is to find bait schools on the surface. Kings should be nearby.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainLarryBlue.com.