Grouper fishing in Tampa Bay has heated up along with the water temperatures, which have put the grouper on the move along the shipping channel. The magic temperature is 65 degrees.
Most of the gags are following the bait schools that line the edge of the channel. The easiest rig to troll is a large deep-diving plug. Pick one that dives to 30 feet when tied directly to a 50-pound grouper outfit. Rods that are rigged with braided line will let the plug dive deeper than rods that use monofilament.
For those wanting to use smaller plugs, switch to a 50-pound outfit rigged with a No.3 planner tied to 40 feet of 80-pound test and a gold broken-back crank bait. Anglers who have down riggers should try large feather-head jigs with long squiggly tails.
Areas to troll include the dropoff of the shipping channel, rock piles, Skyway rubble and the artificial reefs. Try to keep your rigs as close to the bottom as possible without getting snagged.
Trout fishing has gotten better in lower Tampa Bay. Small schools can be found hanging on the edge of the flats. Slug-style jigs, grubs and holographic swim baits are being dragged across the bottom to catch trout in the 12-23-inch range. The best action has been during the start and end of the incoming tide.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.