Three consecutive gulf storms have stirred up waters. As they settle down, look for fishing to improve every day. Many offshore areas that were not producing are beginning to see new residents. Grouper and snapper that spent most of the summer in depths from 90 feet on out will begin their migration to reefs and ledges off the Nature Coast. Most of the action will be in the 50- to 60-foot depths but will soon be as shallow as 20 to 40 feet as the water continues to cool.
With gag grouper being the premier target, many anglers overlook the more abundant mangrove snapper. Most places that are conducive to good grouper fishing hold large schools of snapper. The trick is to adjust your terminal tackle to fool the keen-eyed bait stealers. The typical grouper tackle of 50-pound main line and 80- to 100-pound leader will not produce many bites from wary snapper, but 20- to 40-pound main line with minimal weight and 3 to 4 feet of 40 fluorocarbon leader will. Circle hooks in the No. 2 to No. 4 size work well with most bait.
Tips: Start with the heavy tackle and when the grouper bite slows, lighten it up.
Capt. Troy P. Sapp with Fins and Tails Guide Service can be reached at (813) 920-6928.