What's hot: Fishing offshore in between fronts has been full of action. The mangrove snapper fishing has been better at 70- to 90-foot depths. Normally this time of year I target these fish in 100- to 140-foot depths, but the red snapper have taken over most of the productive areas at these depths and are hitting bait before it gets to the bottom.
Jacks, too: There are many ways to target amberjack. Large horse minnows and threadfin herring can be used to chum 30- to 50-pound amberjack right to the surface. Recently, after catching about a dozen on jigs and live baits, we started pitching large topwater plugs, and the fish were coming out of the water as they hit them. Most of the fish caught on plugs were the larger and more aggressive fish in the school, while the smaller fish were taking baits halfway down the water column.
Tackle: Braided line is a great tool that allows anglers to target larger fish on what seems like lighter tackle. Although this has created an advantage for anglers, it also created a problem since many anglers do not know how to make a connection between the braid and their monofilament "top shot" that utilizes the full strength of this type of tackle. Most anglers use a uni-to-uni knot or a Yucatan knot, which are not bad, but with a little research online they will find that there are many connections that are stronger.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.