What's hot: Because fishing for red and gag grouper in federal waters has been closed, our focus has been on snapper and amberjack. Many types of snapper are in our waters. Red snapper fishing is closed now, so target other snapper, such as mangrove, lane and yellowtails. Catching them can be tricky, and knowing the areas where they might be holding is key.
Location: When looking for areas holding snapper, concentrate in depths of 70 to 100 feet of water, because this range is the most consistent for snapper year-round. Concentrate on the high-profile ledges and rock piles, and be sure to tackle down. These fish are weary and usually will not eat bait when presented with large leads and heavy leaders.
Tackle: Small, lightweight spinning rods are a great way to catch snapper. Braided lines in the 15- to 30-pound class will give you enough power to stop these fish and will help in detecting the sometimes delicate bite. Rigging usually consists of a 6- to 8-foot length of 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. If the tide is running, a small half- to three-quarter-ounce lead should be placed right above the hook. A small jig head can be used.
Tactics: Chumming plays an important role in this type of fishing. Chum blocks and a steady stream of 1-inch-square pieces of sardine will assist in getting the snapper to rise a little higher in the water column, thus making them a little easier to catch. Many of these fish will feed while the bait is falling, so be ready to throw the reel in gear and start reeling fast.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.