Offshore grouper fishing has been average to poor for us over the past three trips. We have been fishing in 50 to 100 feet and tried every bait — live and dead — varied the leader size and still struggled to catch a few keepers.
American snapper fishing has been good in 100 feet and deeper. There are more offshore than I have seen in more than 16 years of fishing this coast. Pieces of frozen sardines have worked well while a small, live pinfish has produced some of the biggest.
Amberjack fishing is strong. A general rule is the deeper you fish, the bigger the jacks.
Shipwrecks and springs are holding some blackfin tuna. The key is strong tides so you can get a chum slick going.
Tactics/bait: Large blue runners will produce the biggest jacks. They like big baits, and a 2-pounder can produce jacks of up to 60 pounds. Drift fishing over springs helps prevent cut-offs. Once you land a fish, place your boat up-tide of the wreck and drift again. Hook your baits through the nose because amberjack will swallow baits head first.
Tackle: Fishing over springs and shipwrecks provides multiple opportunities to catch a variety of species. Take 30-pound class tackle for mangrove snapper, yellow tail snapper and American snapper; 50- to 60-pound for grouper, amberjack and tuna. Barracuda are thick over all of the shipwrecks right now. A big blue runner on a flat line with No. 4 steal leaders should give you some high jumping action.
Larry "Huffy'' Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.