What's hot: With the gag grouper closure still in effect, targeting hogfish is a popular alternative. On Tuesday, in 60 feet, 20 miles west of John's Pass, we ended up with 17 along with a boat-full of grunts, throwback grouper and porgies. Most were caught on light-braided line (15-pound test), spinning tackle and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. A bit heavier braid on conventional tackle can be used but stay with the light leader. Some will use a jighead baited with shrimp or a small crab. We used a knocker rig and 1-ounce weight resting on top of our 2/0 and 3/0 hooks. Bait shops now offer chum blocks of finely ground crabs. It made a difference when weighted, put in a mesh bag and sent to the bottom.
Tips: When targeting hogfish, use shrimp. With three or four fishing, it's not unusual to go through 20 dozen, and we fed fish another five dozen fiddlers.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.