Pro Insider – Focus on Grouper

What’s hot: Grouper fishing will continue to be our main focus this month until the northerly winds bring cool air. Red and gag grouper have been camping out in 50-90 feet of water and with the fall influx of bait on the way they should stay through the year. Water temps in the mid to upper 80s have kept the best gag grouper fishing in depths well over 100 feet. A trip to the 40 fathom curve produced gags in the 30-pound class.

What to look for: Two tricks to ensure the best results: First, learn to use your bottom machine. Zoom features and range settings give a much more detailed picture of the bottom. If you are looking at the entire water column you could miss the tiny 2-foot ledge that is loaded with grouper and snapper. Second is your gain settings. Setting it on auto is not an option. The easiest way to set the gain is turn it up until your screen is receiving feedback, then back it down just until this disappears. These tips should give quite a bit more detail and possibly let you see what you may have been missing.

Anchoring: This is probably one of the most important tools of a successful bottom fisherman. Being able to get the baits repeatedly to the same spot will create action, and this will bring more action. Proper ground tackle such as a large claw type anchor, and 25-30 feet of chain, will make sure that you keep your place on the spot. Drifting or power fishing typically scatters the fish while anchoring will concentrate them.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and

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