What's hot: Water temperatures are becoming a little more favorable for shallow-water bottom fishing. As the water cools, gag and red grouper will make their way into the 30- to- 60-foot depths off of our coast. The main migration of the gags will start in the shallower waters off of Bayport and Tarpon Springs. As the fall weather patterns continue, these fish will start their push south toward our area and south to areas off of Sarasota before pushing their way back offshore.
Tactics: In the past few weeks, we have seen large numbers of red grouper take up residence in 80-100 feet. I have been fishing areas that have been unproductive for the past five years with great results. The reds have been averaging 10-12 pounds. The larger fish have been falling for larger live baits such as squirrelfish and grunts. We have also seen a large number of gag grouper in 70-90 feet. Although it is a bit early for these fish to be in these areas, they will not be going anywhere soon. The reason: Huge schools of juvenile spanish sardines are holding on most ledges and rock piles.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.