For the past few years during February and March, grouper closure anglers seeking offshore action have had to change their tactics. As a result they are fast becoming complete anglers.
New targets: One species these anglers are catching is the hog snapper. This member of the wrasse family was given its name because when on the feed it will root around in the sand for its meal. When targeting these fish, look at the lower relief areas with hard bottom. Understanding their diet is most important. Crustaceans are the key; shrimp, crabs and sand fleas are the top baits to tempt these delicious fish.
Tackle: A knocker rig with small slip lead connected to a 2/0-3/0 circle hook will work well, as does fishing these baits on small jig heads. The lighter the tackle the more bites you will get.
Other targets: Amberjack have made their presence known on most wrecks and springs in 120-250 feet of water. Get these fish in a frenzy by live chumming them right to the surface. While these fish are up top, sight-cast and target individual fish. Most have been 30-40 pounds, with a few more than 60.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.