What's hot: Arguably the best action inshore and near shore lately has been grouper. Though grouper is generally considered an offshore fish, moderate water temperatures in the fall produce great gag action in water as shallow as 8 feet.
Structure is key: Even gags in the bay and estuaries will be found only in spots that have a structure or bottom feature they can dart into for cover. If you are casting and catch a small grouper, something may be on the bottom of your spot. If you get another one, something is definitely there, and you should make note of it on your GPS. We have discovered many inshore grouper spots while casting for trout or snook. A few miles offshore in 12 to 20 feet of water, trolling plugs are helpful when prospecting for grouper holes. The spots least visible on a sonar usually hold the most keeper-sized fish.
Always be looking: A common mistake is to fish the same spot regularly. Grouper gather on a spot very slowly, only occasionally moving from one rock to another. You will not get the same results on a second or third trip to a spot. The top grouper guides never fish a spot more than once every month or two. For this reason, every trip should include time spent searching for new spots. Not only does this provide you with a fresh spot that day, it gives you one more in your black book.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.