What's hot: Although the weather has been inhospitable offshore recently, the brief calm periods between cold fronts have provided opportunities for bottom fishing in deep water. With gag grouper and red snapper closed to recreational harvest, anglers have focused on red grouper, amberjack, mangrove snapper and scamp. All have been active deeper than 140 feet.
Tactics: Amberjack and mangrove snapper prefer large structures such as wrecks and tall ledges. Most other fish, however, prefer low, nondescript hard-bottom areas. The key to finding productive spots is watching your sonar for subtle dips in depth. Just about any depression in deep water likely will hold fish.
Tips: Hard spots, or roll-offs, often show no fish in the water column on the sonar. Only after you drop a bait to the bottom will red grouper and scamp rise to investigate and start a feeding frenzy.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at (727) 944-3474.