What's hot: Catch-and-release trolling for large gag grouper is good in almost any area in 30- to 40-foot depths that contains ledges and limestone outcroppings. Troll large-lipped plugs or plugs behind a No. 3 planer to bring the fish away from the structure. This makes it possible for a child to experience catching a large grouper.
Although there are a few mackerel and kingfish around, water temperatures have dropped to the point where it does not pay to spend a lot of time fishing for them. We have concentrated bottom fishing for white grunts, grouper, triggerfish, sea bass and mangrove snapper. On our family trips we equip youngsters with lighter tackle and two-hook snapper rigs with the sinker below the hooks baited with squid strips. The activity often is nonstop because of the smaller hooks.
Tip: Use 2/0 or 3/0 hooks because the activity will bring larger fish into the area, and they can easily straighten a small wire hook.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.