What's hot: Bottom fishing for red grouper has been better than expected, especially in 40-60 feet. And surprisingly, quite a few of them are keepers. While you still have to sort through the smaller fish to get to the legal-sized ones, it is certainly worth the effort. Gag grouper have been a bit disappointing. There are few in near-shore water, although several big fish have been caught in water deeper than 80 feet. Fresh, lively bait such as pinfish or pig fish have been the bait of choice.
Tips: A few anglers who have tried trolling have been rewarded with some fair catches of Spanish mackerel. A pleasant surprise has been the number of kingfish that have also been caught this summer. While traversing from one grouper spot to another, we were lucky enough to land five kings. Watch for larger schools of baitfish on the surface and the occasional explosion of a fish from below. Most of the fish chasing the bait are bonito with a mix of kings and Spanish mackerel.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com