What's hot: Offshore fishing for grouper, snapper and amberjack is outstanding. Legal gags can be caught from 20 to 130 feet of water. Amberjack are hungry and are on most of the offshore wrecks and springs from 80 feet of water out to the Elbow. Mangrove snapper have been most plentiful in 85 feet and deeper. Capt. Larry Blue is catching good numbers of kingfish in 60 feet. Last week, more than 20 kings — some close to 20 pounds — were landed while trolling hardware.
Tactics: A group of us worked depths of 75 to 95 feet out. The weather was not what was expected, but even with 4-foot seas, we executed our plan to start in 70 feet and work our way offshore. The fishing was slow at first, but as we moved offshore, we found the major lunar table and caught a lot of fish. Once again our biggest challenge was the American red snapper. We had to move three times to get away from them. We were able to release all the snapper in good shape, but getting baits past them to catch grouper was tough. Numerous amberjack were caught in 94 feet. We had to use 30-pound flora carbon leaders and No. 3 aught hooks to get the mangrove snapper to bite.
Tips: If you are looking for big fish such as 50- to 60-pound jacks and 20-pound grouper, fish in 130 feet and deeper. Big live baits are the trick. Use blue runners and the biggest pinfish you can find.
Larry "Huffy" Hoffman can be reached at (727) 709-9396 or [email protected]