Awesome bottom fishing: The summer looks promising for red grouper. During our full-day excursions, my clients have consistently limited out on the four per person daily allowance. Keepers have been found in 50-60 feet, but the bulk of the bigger population has been in 70 and deeper.
Baits: A variety have worked. One that has stood out is octopus. They have been roaming much of our gulf since the fall, allowing big groupers to feast on them. Squid also have stood out. We have added a chunk of it or octopus with a live pinfish or grunt. The scent from the squid and octopus combined with the wiggle of a frisky baitfish is irresistible.
What else: Gag grouper season in the bay area opens July 1. Their numbers — inshore and offshore — have looked good in our area. The population of keepers seems to be more spread out than red groupers. The strongest numbers seem to be in 40 feet. There are, however, some in 20 feet. Often, they start to migrate back offshore in late spring or early summer. This year, however, many larger fish have stayed put in shallower depths. It will be interesting to see how the fall migration merges with the abundance of fish that stayed for the summer. This is another indicator of a banner season in the makings.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.