One of the most valuable lessons to learn about fishing is no one knows everything. There are many new tactics and tricks that different people use to catch the same fish. For me, fishing for snapper used to consist of lightening leaders and main line to around 50 pounds. These days I find more success and catch larger fish by dropping down to 20-pound outfits as opposed to the lighter tackle of old. Use longer leaders, especially when using live baits. This allows the bait to swim farther off the bottom, making it easier for snapper to see them. Have a variety of baits. I used to think shrimp were for redfish and trout. Now we take them on almost every trip. Other than snapper, we've also been exploring new and interesting ways to target other abundant species such as amberjack. Next time you're offshore and you see 'jacks swimming around the boat, try some top-water action. A little live chumming should get you quite a show. Grouper fishing is very good in depths of 80-120 feet. If the weather allows, trips to these depths should yield plenty of tasty red, gag and scamp grouper. Both frozen and live offerings have been working well.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.