What's hot: The shallow-water gag grouper bite should continue unless the water temperature plunges into the 50s. Keeper gags have been caught in as shallow as 15 feet of water, but the best and most consistent catches are in the 20- to 40-foot range. Keeper red grouper (20 inches overall length) have been rare in these depths for years, and it was usually necessary to travel to the 70- to 90-foot depths to target them. This year is an exception as every recent trip has produced some legal reds in these shallower waters.
Tip: Looking for hard-bottom spots and ledges is similar to "prospecting" offshore, except that lower profile relief will hold large quantities of fish as long as bait is present. Look on the sonar not only for structure but for signs of baitfish. The transducer cone is much smaller in shallow water, not showing as much bottom area at one time. Be ready with a marker to pinpoint the spot.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.