Amberjack invasion: Every year in late November to early December there is a huge migration of large amberjack here offshore. On recent trips to wrecks and springs in depths of 90-120 feet these bruisers have been putting on quite a show. Live chumming is key to getting these fish into a feeding frenzy under the boat. There are so many that I have been able to hand-feed jacks in the 30- to 50-pound class; I do not suggest it but I couldn't resist. Another key to catching the largest fish is sightfishing with a spinning rod. When the fish come to the surface, pitch a free-lined bait right on the nose of the largest fish you see, and hang on.
Gag grouper: Areas as shallow as 15 feet are holding good numbers of legal sized grouper. When weather permits, concentrate on ledges and rockpiles. Hard-bottom areas will also hold some but structure will hold more and larger fish. Anchoring plays a very important role. The closer you can get your baits the better you will do.
Tips: Anchor over your favorite spot and start with dead baits such as frozen sardines. I often belly-hook four or five baits on one rig and drop them to the bottom, then rip them off of the rig. This will get action under the boat, where curious gag grouper will investigate. As soon as the first gag is caught, switch to live baits. When the gags quit and smaller red grouper start getting to the baits, head to the next spot.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.