What's hot: With falling water temperatures and baitfish making their way into the nearshore waters off the coast, expect the fall migration of gag grouper to be in full swing with the next two or three cold fronts that make their way into the central gulf. While there are scattered fish in depths as shallow as 40 feet, the more consistent bite is in depths greater than 100 feet.
Tactics: On a recent trip offshore we started on a few ledges with great fish shows in depths of 60-70 feet. The catch was less than impressive. A move to the 90-100 foot range produced a better bite but still less than expected. Finally we reached a small break in 120 feet where we landed a half-dozen gags in the 10-15 pound range and a nice catch of mangrove snapper in the 4-6 range. Running and gunning is one of the best ways to locate fish while offshore. In most cases bottom species like snapper and grouper will let you know within a few minutes if they are there or not so make sure not to waste too much time at any one location.
Other targets: The fall migration of Cobia has made its way here about a month early. Usually November is the best time. Targeting Cobia can be done by either sight-casting or fishing live baits on the bottom.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.