What's hot: Blackfin tuna are starting to show themselves in the deeper waters off the coast. Due to the lack of shrimp boats working in our area, it will be more difficult to target these fish. Lately, we've been fishing for grouper and snapper in 120 feet and deeper. And like always, there is a flat line with a live sardine or cigar minnow in the T-top rod holder. These fish usually average 20-30 pounds, so heavier tackle helps shorten the fight.
Tactics: Tuna, like most pelagic species, are attracted by chumming. Frozen sardines work well, but the best chum is fresh-caught horse minnows or smaller threadfin herring. The trick is to have a well full of these live chummers and periodically toss a few over the side while bottom fishing. These fish rarely travel alone. When one is caught, you can bet there are more around. So live chumming keeps them in the area.
Tackle: For the well-being of the fish, we usually use a minimum of 30-pound tackle. And when there is a lot of fish in an area, an upgrade to 50 pounds helps. Terminal tackle can vary with the individual. In the past, we have caught wahoo and kingfish using this technique. So it is a good idea to use a wire leader of about 40 pounds and a 5/0 to 7/0 hook. Monofilament leader usually produces more bites.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.