With water temperatures falling, offshore anglers soon will have less species to target. Migratory species such as cobia, kingfish and Spanish mackerel will be migrating south for the winter. Most offshore captains will switch to bottom fishing for grouper and snapper. Red grouper have been decent in the 120-foot range, most weighing 5-10 pounds. Mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper have been biting well in depths of 150 or more. Bring a couple of chum bags to hang overboard. Snapper love chum. If you keep a bag of ground or chopped fish steadily flowing out the stern, you often can bring them all the way to the surface, even in 150 feet. The best way to catch them is free-lining small chunks of bait on light tackle with monofilament line. Avoid the use of braided line when free-lining for snapper since it can spook the fish. We use 20-pound test monofilament with 6 feet of 25-pound test flourocarbon as a leader. If the fish wonít come up high into the water column, add small amounts of weight until you find the minimum amount that gets you into the strike zone. Small jig heads can be helpful.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected] .