With water temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s, fishing offshore for gag grouper is becoming more difficult. The best is in depths of 90-160 feet. Most stops are producing only a few fish, so cover a large area. When running offshore for the day, get out early. The morning bite will be strong until about 10. Later in the afternoon, it will pick back up and usually last until sundown. A well full of fresh live baits will aid in getting more bites.
What's hot: There have been many king mackerel caught in the past month, unusual given the water temperature. The prime areas are 80-120 feet over large wrecks and some of the more high-profile ledges and rockpiles holding bait. These same areas are a great place to catch blackfin tuna and mahi-mahi.
Other targets: Permit are holding on many offshore wrecks. A medium-sized live pass crab is a hard bait to beat. Because of their lack of teeth, permit can be coaxed into eating an offering on a light leader. Use a medium spinning rod in the 30-pound class. The crabs can easily be captured in many passes on an outgoing tide, with a long-handled dip net.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.