What's hot: Scattered reports of kingfish landings again have occurred over the past week. In between fronts, persistent boaters have trolled up a few Spanish mackerel, kingfish and bonito. There are some fish even being caught nearshore, but better numbers can be found 7-15 miles out. Small sardines and cigar minnows can be found huddled near the bottom around artificial reefs. If water temperatures don't dip any lower, the bait could remain, keeping a few late-season macks in our grasp. We'll have to wait and see how the upcoming cold front affects their presence. The bottom line is mild winters often reward us with unusual migratory patterns of game fish.
Technique: Closed-season gag grouper seem to be abundant on many rocks in 40-60 feet. We have not had a lot of success finding keeper red grouper. It seems the gags have switched residency with the reds all the way out to 70 feet. Recently, our best success for keeper reds have been in 80-105 feet. Numbers aren't abundant out this far, but their size is impressive. A good day for red grouper has been about a dozen keeper-sized for the box. Lots of bait schools have started to settle at these deeper locations over the past three weeks. This could lure more red grouper into the area in future weeks.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.