What's hot: With the gag and red grouper season closing for the next two months, it's time to focus on hot, light tackle for fishing offshore for amberjack, mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper and lane snapper. New regulations mean that every trip must count, and trying new things is a great way to learn new tactics.
Tips: Usually when fishermen use chum, they buy a couple of blocks, toss them in the water next to the boat and let them do the work. Use chum to get bottom fish riled up by getting it on or near the bottom. Do this by tying the chum to the anchor. A bit of light mono will do the trick. You can also use a down-rigger and tie the block to the ball and let it down to the desired depth.
Tackle: These snappers have great sight and can be weary when feeding. To ensure a great bite, downsize tackle to lightweight spinning outfits with 10- to 15-pound mono on the reel and 15-pound fluorocarbon for the leader. A small circle hook will get the job done; that's it, no swivel, no lead. A small plug of sardine floating down toward the structure with your hook in it will get their attention. This works great for mangrove and lane snapper. The yellowtails take more preparation. Rigs are the same, locations are the same, but the bait is key. The best is a medium live shrimp.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.