What's hot: Amberjack and snapper continue to be our main targets on day trips. The necessary long runs have been tough with recent cold fronts. But there is often a one- or two-day break from the cold.
Amberjack: Concentrate your efforts in 120-160 feet. Although there has not been any shortage of 30- to 40-pounders, a little preparation will be rewarded with 50- to 70-pounders. When targeting the biggest fish, the adage of "the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish" applies. We have taken our time on the way offshore to secure large porgies and flannel mouth grunts for baits. When we arrive, a few nets of smaller baits are tossed out to get the jacks into a frenzy. When we see the larger fish, the large baits are deployed. The 30- to 40-pounders won't be able to consume these baits and will swim around until the big fish spot them. Then the battle begins.
Snapper: Although it is possible to get them in 40-60 feet, the best bite has been in 90-140 feet. They will feed heavily a day or two before a cold front. Light tackle is key with bait varying between live pilchards and a mix of shrimp and cut baits. A chum bag hanging from the bow halfway to the bottom will help keep these frisky fish under your boat.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.