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Planning a Middle Grounds trip. I have some questions...

Well, my dad called me up and wanted to pull the 28 Bluewater up from Palm Beach and do a Middle Grounds run out of Bay Port. Since I have not offshore fished much since I graduated undergrad down there, who am I to deny such a thing? Now for the questions.. We are south Florida offshore fishermen. We primarily troll with the occasional bottom trip. I love bottom fishing, and I know the Gulf has some of the best, I am just not aware of what the Middle Grounds will be requiring of us. I know fairly stout equipment with the ability to winch a big grouper form the bottom is required. What leaders/weights/hooks do I need? Unlike the Atlantic, I believe the gulf requires circle hooks, any suggestions on some good ones to use? I plan on bringing out live pin fish, squid, sardines and some chunk bait, anything else I should bring? I will also have some rods rigged with say, 40lb leaders for snapper and 80lb for grouper. Am I on the right track there? I have read that the grounds start 50 miles from Bay Port, but that sounds a little close. I have no numbers but I have read that once you have a starting point, it does not take much exploring to find spots to fish. Is their anyone willing to give me a good starting point out of Bay Port? I am not asking for a honey hole, just a good place to begin our search. After all, it is a long trip, and I would hate to make an attempt without first having an idea of where to fish. We have the capacity to run 100 miles off with fuel in reserve, but obviously the closer we can stay the better. Basically, I just need a crash course on fishing there. I have put close to 4000 hours offshore in the last 8 years, so I know a bit, but since this is new to me I need some help. Thanks in advance..


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