With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold front look for more of these fish to push through our area and take up residence on ledges and rock piles in 25- to 75-foot depths. Live bait will outproduce frozen offerings until water temps dip into the low 60s. Hogfish are on the radar for the next few months. These tasty critters are here all year round, although typically a bit more aggressive on the feed during as the water temps reach into the high 60s. A recent size limit increase change from a 12-inch minimum to 14 inches. These fish are measured from the tip on the nose to the fork of the tail. Boat position is key. These fish inhabit hard bottom, but they feed in the sand, so make sure when your baits hit the bottom they are not hitting right on the hard stuff. Light tackle in the 15- to 20-pound range is best, with shrimp and crabs being the main offerings.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.