What's hot: The drop in water temperature from recent cold fronts has all but shut down bottom fishing, especially close to shore. Fish are cold-blooded, and grouper are lethargic under these conditions. It is better for them to lie dormant and wait for the water to warm than burn precious calories chasing after something to eat. But things could be looking up. The five-day forecast shows a warming trend with temperatures hovering close to 80 Saturday through Tuesday. But the bottom will take significantly longer to warm up than the surface so have patience.
Tips: Consider using smaller baits than normal. Big grouper will eat a quarter-sized chunk of squid instead of a whole sardine. In years past, we have caught keeper-sized grouper on outfits we normally use for grunts. Even a 20-pound test, two-hook "snapper rig" can handle a pair of big fish when they lack the energy to fight back.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.