What's hot: Recent trips to deep offshore waters have produced a variety of fish. The water outside 40 miles has been blue and clear. Migratory species and bottom fish have helped make these expensive long-range runs worthwhile.
On the bottom: The best reason to run deep is that red snapper season has opened. In recent years, these fish have become so prolific that it can be difficult to stay away from them during the more than 10-month closed season. Since the bag limit is two per person, we target the biggest fish. Lately our biggest red snapper have come from flat hard-bottom areas with little structure or profile. These areas are the preferred habitat for red grouper.
More species: Outsized mangrove snapper have been abundant around wrecks or other significant bottom features. The use of chum will bring them to the surface, even in deep water. Last week while chumming, we had large yellowtail snapper and vermilion snapper appear behind the boat, and we caught our limit of yellowtails and several vermilions around 4 pounds. Free-lining chunk baits on light spinning gear was key.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.