The fall season for gag grouper is still going strong. Keeper-sized gags have been easy to come by from John's Pass to Homosassa.
Stay shallow: We have been catching our limit of gags in one or two stops in less than 25 feet of water. Two weeks ago we ran out 50 miles and found the gag bite to be spotty, although the fish were somewhat larger. A few days later we caught 18 legal-sized fish on our first stop in 14 feet, within sight of the beach. Several guides out of Madeira Beach have even reported keeper gags inside the Intracoastal Waterway.
Live bait: Large live pinfish or grunts are always top choices, especially in shallow water. We usually force ourselves to use cut sardines or threadfins for the first cast or two on a fresh spot to get the scent going on the bottom and draw the fish. Once the bite fires up, switching to big live baits helps weed out smaller fish and often coaxes a bite from the big fish that may have been reluctant to strike dead baits. Remember, gags have to be 22 inches to keep, and the daily bag limit is two per person.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.