What's hot: Besides the weather, it has to be red grouper and continued kingfish activity offshore. Red grouper along with white grunts, scamp and also a few yellowtail and Lane snapper have taken up their usual summer residence on the flat, exposed "swiss cheese" bottom in the 85- to 110-foot depths. This bottom get its name because a diver looking at it from above with good visibility would see a large expanse of almost flat, white limestone bottom dotted with holes. Those holes range from fist-sized to 6 foot or deeper depressions. When they are not actively feeding, red grouper can be seen on their bellies touching the bottom. Some fishermen believe these openings in the rock are mouths of small cave systems that extend far into the limestone. This may explain why there are times when a spot that has produced red grouper one day will appear to be devoid of fish the next day.
Tactics: Even though most of our larger fish recently have been caught on live pinfish, squirrelfish, Spanish sardines or small blue runners, we still start on a spot with frozen sardines and squid. These baits will start the activity with white grunts, grouper and other assorted bottom fish. The theory is this is what brings the larger fish out of their lairs and that is what triggers the feeding instinct.
Tip: With numerous kingfish still around, deploying a flat line with a dead or live Spanish sardine or cigar minnow will produce some quality fish.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at Luckytoo2@aol.com or (727) 397-8815.