What's hot: Shallow-water grouper fishing. At the end of last week, Larry Ellis and his crew easily caught their limit of gags on a one-stop trip in 35 feet. Tony Cellamare and his group reported similar action in 60 feet, with a haul that included three 18-pounders. Many anglers have not gathered live bait. With water temperatures in the 50s, many grouper prefer a cut bait over chasing a live one.
Update: Gag grouper fishing in state waters has remained open for recreational anglers. Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for details (myfwc.com).
Other opportunities: Not all species have lost their appetites in the cold water. Sheepshead will pick a fight throughout winter. Increasing numbers are showing up along the edges of the ship channel inside the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Docks, marinas, bridges and jetties leading to the gulf are among the most productive gathering spots. The traditional invasion of silver trout off Redington Beach and the surrounding beaches has been hampered. Muddy water along the gulf beaches caused by passing cold fronts has scattered the big bunches and pushed them offshore. Look for them to return as conditions improve.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.