What's hot: Red grouper is still the hot topic at many captains' meetings. Consistent landings have been par since the season opened April 1. Gag grouper fishing also started well on July 1 (opening day). Keeper sized red grouper have been most consistent in 70-plus feet of water. The gags, available at many depths, seem finicky at times.
Limits met: Limits of four grouper per person have been consistent until the recent rough weather. I don't expect that to change.
Weather: Sometimes a tropical storm or hurricane will shift many populations of sea life for hundreds of miles. One tropical storm brought impressive numbers of large yellowtail snappers to our area. Artificial reefs like the Indian Shores Reef (10 miles out) held these prized snappers for an entire year after the big storm. Yellowtails are more common south of Fort Myers, all the way past the Keys. We have also witnessed spiny crawfish (Florida lobster) after a big storm. Divers were making impressive catches a few miles from shore, out to 40 miles. Though the numbers were not high, many weighed more than 4 pounds. It has been more than a decade since those two occurrences, but you never know what surprises could be waiting.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.