What's hot: Red snapper remains the main focus on our trips, the best bite in depths of at least 140 feet. These fish will eat just about any bait, dead or alive. My preferred bait is a thawed-out Spanish sardine because it is oily and soft, which creates a faster hookup ratio. Fish in depths of 140 to 160 feet have been averaging 5 to 15 pounds, but fishing a bit deeper will produce 10- to 15-pounders, with some fish pushing the 20-pound mark.
Other targets: Red grouper have been a bit spotty lately. We've caught one or two good fish per stop then the next stop produces 10 fish in the 12- to 18-pound range. Live pinfish and grunts have worked best as bait. The best bite has been in the 80- to 110-foot range and also in the 160-plus foot depths. Mangrove snapper are getting into their summer patterns. Look for these fish on most ledges in the 80- to 200-foot range. A live pilchard is hard to beat, but chumming with small chunks of sardines and fishing high in the water column with a 1/4-ounce jig head has worked also.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.