What's hot: Though the temperatures remain nice, relentless north and east winds have been making it difficult to run too far from shore. It has been said hard conditions make fishermen better. So fisherman tend to find a way to get their fix.
Technique: When the winds are out of the east, start on the beach looking under crab buoys, channel markers or just about any other floating debris for tripletail. These prehistoric-looking creatures are excellent table fare. Once a fish is found, spin around, pitch a live shrimp a few feet in front of it and get ready for a fight. Small spinning gear with a 10- to 15-pound mainline and a 20-pound leader will do the trick.
Tips: Even with winds blowing in the 15-knot range, conditions will be fishable out to about 5 miles. Look to the north, pretty much due west of Redington Beach, in depths of 20-30 feet. There is a large area of live bottom about 5 miles in every direction that has small cracks and ledges teaming with life. Though gag grouper fishing is closed, there is still a great opportunity for catch-and-release action via either trolling or anchored-up bottom fishing.
Looking ahead: When the weather breaks, amberjack are right on time for their winter migration to shallower water. Many of the wrecks inside 100 feet are teaming with jacks, some pushing 60 pounds. Live baits will work, but fooling one of these monsters using lighter tackle and artificial lures is unreal.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.