What's hot: On our most recent trip, we caught 30 mangrove snapper, gag and red grouper, a couple of porgies and triggerfish. Fishing in 47 feet 13 miles southwest out of Pass-a-Grille, particles escaping our chum bag eventually raised the mangrove snapper to the surface. Most were caught bouncing the bottom with 20-pound test, 2-ounce egg sinker, 1/0 hook and frisky 3-inch whitebait. Many, though, were caught on fly-lined chunks of bait drifted in our chum line on light-spinning tackle.
Tips: Raising mangrove snapper and getting them to eat are two different things. In low light, such as early morning or slightly muddied water, they can be fooled into taking offerings presented naturally. When the sun is overhead or the water is clear, it can be nearly impossible to entice them.
Tackle: When chunking, lighter is better. Both 10- and 12-pound test with a small, lightweight hook will appear more natural when drifting in the chum line. Leave the bail open or pull out enough slack to allow the baited hook to keep pace with the chum pieces. If the snapper are finicky, try bypassing a swivel with a line-to-line knot.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.