What's hot: An incredible amount of red grouper have shown up on just about any piece of hard bottom and rock pile in the gulf. The challenge is to find a keeper. Persistence and patience will pay off. Just be ready to get a workout on the smaller fish until a big one takes the hook. Those that do measure up have been taken on a squid and sardine combination. There is no shortage of gag grouper; every stop we've made has produced lots. Of course, gag grouper season was closed June 1 in state and federal waters.
Tactics: Keep a flat-line out for a passing kingfish. A flat-line is a rod rigged without a weight, usually with a trace of wire leader to the hook. It's often used for king mackerel. Live or dead bait can be attached to the hook; but most experienced anglers prefer live sardines for this method of fishing. We've caught kings by using a flat-line in depths of 55 to 70 feet while bottom-fishing for other species. Also, watch for schools of sardines between stops; the kings are staying close to the schools. This week has produced some of the best fishing for kings all season.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe out of Madeira Beach Marina. He can be reached at CaptainLarryBlue.com, (727) 871-1058 or (727) 397-3773.