What's hot: This past month was a promising indicator that red grouper fishing is going to be good for a while. Anglers going for red grouper in the near future should plan on numerous keeper fish in the box. We have reached the limit of four per person on most every recent trip. Their population seems better in 85 feet or deeper.
Hot spots: Last week many new locations were found by checking any flat, rocky bottom that looked like it had life on it. A small pod of bait fish, a few small fish along the bottom or any kind of show on the sonar often can become your jackpot stop. One memorable stop was in 86 feet. I noticed three small fish hovering a few feet off the bottom. After spinning the boat around and dropping anchor uptide, we caught 16 keeper red grouper. Many other new stops produced at least five keepers. The most important thing about looking for new locations is not to get discouraged if you strike out. I had dropped on three spots before the jackpot location without a bite. The key that the spot holds fish is if you hook a grouper immediately after dropping baits to the bottom. It doesn't have to be a large fish. Once a few undersized grouper eat, they attract the larger grouper to investigate. My rule this time of year is to give it two or three minutes. If you don't get a bite by then, move on to the next locations.
Extra bonus: Free-lined sardines off the back of the boat consistently lure kingfish and other pelagic fish. All the commotion of grouper being often entices onlookers to join the feeding frenzy.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.