Thanksgiving weekend provided nearly perfect conditions for fishing offshore. Several boats filled coolers with hog snapper, with an incidental catch of red and gag grouper. Late November and early December is usually when gag grouper move in close to shore. We often find them in 15-20 feet, which might be less than a mile from the beach. This is a good time to troll large-lipped lures. Once one or more fish are found, anchor on that location. Fishing for grouper in shallow water can show just how much of a challenge they present. Most are surprised at how quickly they move once hooked. Gag grouper might even rival the antics of snook in power, speed and agility. They are acutely aware of their surroundings and ways to shake the hook. Anglers target these fish before the water gets too cold. King and Spanish mackerel have returned after the cold fronts that hit a couple of weeks ago. As long as the temperatures and water conditions remain as they are, they might stick around.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.