What's hot: Gag grouper season opened a few weeks ago and the bite has been spectacular. A surprise to many is the amount of shallow-water red grouper being caught. Many of the near-shore "gag grouper" ledges are overrun with keeper reds.
Tackle: Because of abundant smaller red grouper, start with sardines and squid for bait. But hold back from using live bait: no sense wasting valuable pinfish on a 15-inch grouper. Smaller fish will tear away at the frozen baits and a slick will be created, which attracts the bigger fish. When adult fish move in, the juveniles step aside. Then it's time to add a few live baits into the mix.
Tips: Pay close attention to solunar charts for peak predictions. If you can, fish during major periods for best results, and good results during minors. You can still fish between those periods, but don't expect the same activity level.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or see captainlarryblue.com.