We look forward to traveling offshore again to go bottom fishing. The key is to get out between cold fronts when winds are light. There will be only a few days this week that will be tolerable to travel west because of rough conditions due to winter systems. Our longer trips have been the ticket for producing good numbers of red grouper since we can travel past the 30-mile mark. From that point out to 120 feet of water, anglers can bring in nice catches. Shorter trips are still tough if you want grouper since gag season is closed and not too many red grouper are available. Plenty of other reef fish have filled the void for these shorter trips. Hog fish, lane snapper, grunts, sea bass and porgies are the most prevalent. A shining ray of light for inshore bottom fishing is the slow migration of red grouper traveling eastward. By late summer last year, they were basically void in our area within 15 miles of shore. Captains are witnessing an easing migration from the deep gulf, hoping they will infiltrate shallower waters by the end of March. Signs like this are keeping anglers optimistic for better shallow-water fishing in the spring. We've been checking depths of 70-plus feet with minimal results so far. A few keepers are showing up in 80 feet.
Dave Mistretta captains Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.