What's hot: Strong winds and high seas kept offshore charters in port for the opening of gag grouper season on July 1 and much of last week. Once the weather cooperated and we got out, the gags that had been so much fun to catch and release — while trolling large-lipped plugs behind a No. 3 planer in 30-40 feet in May and June — would not bite. Going to 90-95 feet with frozen sardines, squid and live pinfish left us disappointed with catches of scattered red grouper, white grunts and an occasional small gag. But we moved to 60 feet and found success. We caught keeper red and gag grouper, white grunts, mangrove snapper, kingfish, cobia and Spanish mackerel on a flatline using live and frozen sardines.
Tip: At this time of year, it is easy to venture past where fish are active. Try inshore spots first.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.