Follow migration: December is a great time to get offshore for shallow-water grouper fishing. The first few cold fronts of the season trigger the gag grouper migration, which usually starts in the northern Middle Grounds. With each cold front, these fish will slowly work their way south to a stop west of Bayport and Tarpon Springs and stay in 30- to 80-foot depths on smaller ledges and rock piles. As water temperatures dip into the mid 60s, these grouper will go south to areas west of Clearwater and Treasure Island in the same depths. Further into the winter, their journey will take them south into the Bradenton and Sarasota areas. The final leg of their journey will take them back offshore to the south at the end of the season.
Farming spots: There has been a push of fish into our area, but the main migration is still to come. It is important to farm out fishing spots; always make sure to leave as many fish as possible. If you take all the grouper off a particular spot and the migration of fish moves through the area, they will pass over that area. If there are fish there, other fish will feel comfortable stopping. This technique will ensure that you catch fish on every trip, instead of catching a limit in two or three trips and catching nothing but shorts on the rest of your trips.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.