What's hot: Red grouper fishing is fantastic right now in depths of 80-160 feet. Look for these fish to be stacked up on rolls and ledges. The best baits for them are live pinfish and grass grunts as well as frozen baits such as Spanish sardines and Boston mackerel.
Tips: Typically, anglers look to large areas of hard bottom for red grouper. But because we are now fishing during the "spring transition" and the water temperatures offshore are still in the low 70s, these fish are still in winter mode. During the winter months, the grouper stack up on structures, where they can basically hide during passing cold fronts. During this transition, they make their way farther offshore before moving into their normal summer routines.
Tackle: For the past few years, we have been catching more and more fish with artificial lures, especially when they are the first baits in the water. The erratic action of these types of baits right after landing almost always triggers the largest and most aggressive fish right away. Light colors work best, and a fast retrieve gets the best results.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.