By DAVE MISTRETTA
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001
Don't get frustrated if inshore fishing hasn't been up to par. Even the pros are having problems.
The bite has basically shut down because of water temperatures in the mid 50s. Once the mercury creeps back to the 60s, things will get better. Until then, patience is a virtue.
For the persistent inshore grouper angler, I suggest traveling south for a decent catch. Anglers have reported scattered catches of gag grouper in 60 or more feet of water southwest of Egmont Key. Another option would be to travel 100 miles into the gulf. Not only will things be warmer, it coincides with the annual spawn of gag grouper.
A majority of mature fish have moved west and formed large schools. This is easy pickings for a knowledgeable grouper fisherman after the fish have been located. For this reason, commercial landings will be stopped in February. Federal law prohibits any harvest of grouper for commercial sale during the spawn to allow more fish to reproduce. Expect a grouper sandwich to cost a pretty penny.
- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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