Thursday, March 22, 2018

Captains corner: Grouper providing good action

What's hot: There's a steady grouper bite in just about all depths. In the past couple of weeks we've caught gag grouper in depths ranging from 32 feet to 475 feet. Live bait has been the key to success and should continue as long as the water temperatures stay above 70 degrees. Concentrate on ledges and roll-offs, and settle the boat over the fish that will usually show on the bottom side of the relief.

Red grouper are in somewhat of a strange pattern this year. There have been good numbers of legal-sized fish in depths of 30 to 45 feet for the past few months. Typically these fish will not venture to these depths until the height of the fall season, when water temperatures are in the mid to lower 60s. The strange thing is there are few legal reds from 50 to 80 feet of water, but once you get by that the bite is solid until you get to about 240 feet or so.

Tackle: Many anglers prefer the old 4/0-sized reel with heavy monofilament line as their setup for grouper. But times and tools change. Many anglers have made the transition to braided line because anglers "feel" the bite better. Braid also has virtually no stretch, unlike mono, which generally has about 10 percent stretch, an advantage in deep water. The major dilemma is the connection to the leader. Do not tie the braid directly to the swivel or hook, as the sliding of the lead will eventually wear through the braid and there are not many strong knots for this application. Anglers mainly rig up with a 20-foot section of mono connected to the end of the braid. The end of this mono is where the terminal tackle should be rigged. There are many knots that could be used for this connection. With a little testing you will find the right one for you.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and


Captainís Corner: Windy conditions limit fishing options

The weather and water temperature roller coaster continues. Finding consistent action has been difficult with windy conditions keeping us from fishing many open parts of the bay or out into the gulf. Hiding in secluded backwater areas or on leeward s...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Grouper moving in as water temperatures rise

Red grouper have made their move inshore this past week as waters closer to shore have warmed up a bit. Concentrate your efforts on hard bottom areas in depths of 100-120 feet for the rest of the month, and remember that all shallow water grouper are...
Published: 03/18/18
Updated: 03/20/18

Captainís Corner: Cold causes spiny lobsters to go into hiding

The cold front that ended Wednesday drove the offshore bottom temperatures back down into the low 60s. On dives Friday, my dive computer read 62 degrees at the bottom in 54 feet of water. On the next dive it read 60 in 62 feet. We were looking for ho...
Published: 03/18/18

Captainís Corner: Snook are the hot bite

Surface water temperatures have dipped into the low 60s, but the fish donít seem to mind. The longer days get the temperature up and helps keep it from getting into the danger zone at night. Snook have been the hot bite this past week and, believe it...
Published: 03/16/18
Updated: 03/17/18

It has been a crazy month regarding all the drastic weather changes. We experienced a record-breaking warming trend in February, followed by an endless amount of cold weather this month. The arrival times for many spring migrations of fish has been i...
Published: 03/16/18

Captainís Corner: Big trout moving out of the shallows

February seemed like March with record-breaking heat, but now March seems like February with below-average temperatures. This is a good thing. Spring fishing has started way too early in the past few years. The cold-water temperature we have now will...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Captainís Corner: Temperature changes affect fly fishing

Having a fantastic river trip one day where we caught a lot of snook in shallow water on a fly and going back to the same location three days later and not finding any cooperative fish can be very puzzling. What happened? Recent warm weather was repl...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/14/18

Captainís Corner: Warming trend increasing activity over grass flats

Water temperatures have finally started to climb into the low 70s on the flats. The temperatures have been fluctuating with the past few cold fronts moving through. Large schools of reds should start showing up on the flats in the Pinellas Point area...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/13/18
Captainís Corner: Favorable water temperatures approaching

Captainís Corner: Favorable water temperatures approaching

We traditionally look at two holidays to signal the start of trolling season for kingfish and Spanish mackerel along with their attendant migratory companions, blackfin tuna, cobia and barracuda. These are St. Patrickís Day (March 17) and Columbus Da...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/12/18

Captainís Corner: Spring fishing is getting close

When the weather settles down in the bay area, spring fishing should shift quickly into high gear. Just before the recent heavy winds arrived and churned the nearshore gulf into a muddy mess, seasonal migratory fish were showing up all over town. For...
Published: 03/10/18
Updated: 03/11/18