What's hot: Grouper are on the move seeking deeper and cooler waters. With the dog days of summer drawing near, runs of 30-40 miles will be a daily occurrence. Grouper will be most active on the bottom when temperatures are in the mid 70s to low 80s.
Tactics: When targeting grouper offshore in waters deeper than 120 feet, have a healthy selection of fresh, live baits. Pinfish, pigfish, blue runners and Spanish sardines are a sure bet for success.
Tips: Parking the boat over productive spots is only a small part of catching quality grouper and snapper. I always keep an eye on what baits are being dropped to the bottom. Sometimes, the fish are in different moods and like different presentations and baits. A few trips ago, we were anchored over a small break in 140 feet. I knew the fish were there, but they would not eat. We deployed a variety of baits until a 15-pound gag grouper took an anal hooked pigfish. We searched the well for a similar bait, hooked it the same way and caught another nice gag. By then, the secret was out, and everyone joined in for a great bite and quality fish.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.