Feeding frenzy: Grouper fishing in all depths is better than it has been in years. This fall we have targeted gag grouper in 28-32 feet, then two days later caught the same fish in depths greater than 400 feet. Almost any rock pile or ledge will hold gags for the next few months.
Turn and burn: While getting directly over a hot spot can be difficult, sometimes leaving one can be harder. One common mistake made when bottom fishing is staying too long. If the baits are dropping right on the spot and a grouper is not caught in about 10 minutes, it is time to leave. Fishing twice as many breaks or rock piles in one day offshore can sometimes produce twice as many fish.
Watch the temps: Keep an eye on water temperatures in different areas. Those in depths of less than 50 feet will be considerably cooler than those of 100-plus. Cooler water will make these fish a little more lethargic and less likely to feed aggressively on live bait.
Other targets: December and January typically have a short run of pelagic species, such as wahoo, mahi-mahi and blackfin tuna. In the past couple of weeks, we have caught many blackfins from 25 to 30 pounds, many king mackerel and had one rod spooled by a large wahoo. Target these fish in depths of 130 feet or more.
Steve Papen operates Fintastic Fishing Charters and can be reached at (727) 642-3411.