Monday, January 22, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Plenty of grouper

What's hot: Grouper fishing remains hot in offshore waters. The bulk of the red grouper can be found in 80-160 feet. These fish are quite hungry and on the move as water temperatures steadily climb. Live baits are key, but staying on the move also is important over the next few months. Last week, one of my trips had us out to 135 feet, where it was one-stop shopping for red grouper and mangrove snapper.

Other options: This is a great time for pelagic species such as blackfin tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo and sailfish. While offshore, keep an eye on the surface of the water for signs of life. Trolling a small spread of Islander lures with ballyhoo and other smaller lures such as Billy Baits will get the job done. Last year, we released nine sailfish during June and had countless shots at others. Look for the sails to be on the surface feeding while out there.

What's next: Gag grouper season opens July 1, and they are just about everywhere in 50 feet and deeper. The limit is two fish per angler, and the minimum size is 22 inches. Big, live baits will get the best action. As the bite gets started, these fish become very aggressive, but it is important to keep them away from the rocks below. Typically when a fish or two are lost, they will sound the alarm and the others will stop feeding.

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

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