Storm fishing: Typically a tropical storm or hurricane in the gulf leaves great fishing in its wake. Since these weather events usually travel slowly and have such a huge wind field the fish usually find shelter and stay there for days. When the weather clears, it's time to eat.
Storm fishing offshore can produce the best grouper and snapper of the year. Gag grouper will be around larger profile structures in depths of 40 to 90 feet. In the past, artificial reefs and wrecks such as the Indian Shores Reef, Rube Allen and the Blackthorn have produced gags and mangrove Snapper. Live bait should outproduce frozen until the water temperature reaches the mid 60s.
Other options: Between cold fronts, the east winds can make getting offshore difficult. The shoreline breaks up the wind, so even on days when the winds are in the 20-knot range the seas on the beach will be less than 1 foot. Try cast-netting shad and ladyfish at local bridges before sunup. Areas such as the Blind Pass drop, Redington Beach and St. Pete Beach are holding good numbers of king mackerel in the 20- to 25-pound class. Troll these baits on stinger rigs at a slow speed. Keep the speed under 2 mph, any faster and baits will not look natural.
The beach is loaded with Spanish mackerel. They are less picky and usually involved in a feeding frenzy. Look for birds feeding on the baits the mackerel are driving to the surface. Troll spoons or small plugs at a quick pace on the outskirts of the feeding fish.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.