What's hot: Plummeting water temperatures likely will end the fall-like patterns anglers had enjoyed this month. The migratory fish that lingered late this year will leave for more moderate conditions. For offshore fishermen, amberjack become a primary target. As the water settles, big amberjack will move into wrecks and other bottom features as shallow as 50 feet. Fifty-pounders have been common; 70- to 80-pounders are caught regularly.
Techniques: Live bait or fast-moving lures are a must. Amberjack almost never bite a dead bait, even if it was alive moments before. Tired or worn-out live baits seldom produce, either. Bring as many live baits as possible, and change them frequently. The faster a live bait tries to run away, the quicker amberjack will pounce.
Finicky fish: Live pinfish work okay, but speedy baits such as blue runners, Spanish sardines and cigar minnows are better. This is even more pronounced at spots that receive regular fishing pressure. Because pinfish are the most common live bait offered by offshore anglers, the jacks get used to seeing them and might shy away. If you see jacks casually following your bait but not eating it, you might need to change your rig. When the fish are high in the water column, eliminate sinkers and cast far from the boat. Free-lining like this often produces our biggest fish of the day.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.