Busy weekend: This weekend was extremely windy. We caught kingfish about 15 miles from shore. They were around bait schools hovering along the bottom. The only rods that were getting hit were downriggers. They were positioned at the depths we saw the schools of baitfish. For the most part, the bait schools consisted of juvenile Spanish sardines and cigar minnows.
Busy bottom fishing: After catching kings, we anchored over rocky bottom in 50 feet of water. We hoped to catch a few keeper red grouper in this depth, but we didn't. Two weeks ago we caught 10 red groupers a day in depths of 80-plus feet. Last week forced us to stay closer to shore because of small-craft advisories. What we did find was an endless amount of large gag groupers eager to bite our hooks. We released at least 24 gag groupers in the 8- to 15-pound rage. My clients were quite frustrated with the new regulations on gag grouper. A quick photo and back to the gulf waters was our only option. Plenty of grunts were available, too, but we decided not to keep them because the icebox already had fresh kingfish. Expect the same action to be consistent until water temperatures drop further, forcing the bait schools to move out of the area.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.