What's next: As of midnight Tuesday recreational grouper fishing will be suspended in gulf state waters (shore to 9 miles out) until April. So we'll have to redirect our fishing obsession. One suggestion would be to fish close to shore for a cooler full of grunts, triggerfish, porgies, mangrove snapper, flounder, or whatever happens to bite. If what you want is a good fish-fry, the above list will more than cover it.
Overlooked: One of the most often-caught fish we get in the gulf is the white grunt, a.k.a.: "Hubbard's gray snapper." To compare them to any other fish is hard to do. However, many people say the flesh reminds them of an overgrown freshwater crappie, yet living in saltwater gives the grunt a delicious flavor.
This time of the year, grunts are plentiful and they are about as large as they get. Practically any patch of hard, broken bottom will yield a good number of them. Check depths from 35 to 60 feet, or try any of the man-made reefs.
Grunts are scrappy fighters on light line. When using two baited hooks, if two fish hit it will feel like you've hooked a monster. Okay, it's not a 30-pound grouper, but it should do for now.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarryBlue.com.