What's hot: With gag grouper season closed, most offshore anglers have shifted their focus to amberjack, red grouper and mangrove snapper. Thirty miles is generally where we start, then work deeper. When the weather allows, however, the action outside the 80-foot depths has been outstanding. When it comes to finding the biggest, strongest and most aggressive offshore target, it's hard to beat amberjack. In the past few weeks, big ones have taken up residence at most local deep wrecks. A month ago, most were lighter than 20 pounds. But lately, big ones have appeared. Last week, we often found ourselves fishing amid swirling masses of 25- to 70-pounders.
Tactics: Anchor and drop frisky live baits such as blue runners or cigar minnows with a sinker. The first few bites come low in the water column. As the hooked fish battle and are reeled in, the school follows. At this point, a net full of live baits dumped overboard kicks off a free-for-all. We keep a 12 weight fly rod and medium-action spinning gear rigged with topwater plugs ready. Lighter tackle for these big offshore fish allows anglers to get the most excitement out of these great game fish.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at lighttacklecharters.com or at (727) 944-3474.