The word is out: Gag grouper have moved into the shallow rocks from Tarpon Springs to Homosassa. Most of our recent charters have limited out on gags up to 14 pounds, with a few smoker kings and cobia mixed in. Some of the best action has been in water as shallow as 12 to 16 feet off Bayport and Hernando Beach. This area has virtually unlimited rock piles scattered over many square miles. Not all hold legal-sized gags, and it takes a bit of experimentation to find the good ones. Perhaps the easiest way is to hop over the side with a mask and fins. Most of the really good spots have a deep hole or large undercut that the fish can go into for cover and small Spanish sardines. If you can find a rock with both of these, chances are the grouper will be there.
When fishing for gags in less than 20 feet of water, anchor upcurrent from the spot and cast back to it. Using heavy-duty spinning reels instead of the standard conventionals makes casting easier. If the boat is directly over the fish they are less likely to bite. Light sinkers will help reduce the number of snags and allow your bait to swim more freely. A 1-ounce egg sinker usually is all you need to get your bait to the bottom. Hook size should be 5/0 to 7/0 depending upon the size of the bait. Live pinfish are the best bait, but threadfin herring and large scaled sardines also are effective.