Fishing will be a challenge at the end of the year, but with a little knowledge and the right spots, you can have success. Since we're having a warmer-than-normal December, snapper fishing will continue to be fantastic. Look for mangroves to continue to feed well on ledges and wrecks in the 50- to 100-foot depths. Chumming is key, but don't overdo it since that will result in the fish staying on the bottom. Tackle should be light, with midsized spinning gear, fluorocarbon leader in the 20- to 25-pound range and small circle hooks ranging from 3/0 to 5/0. If the fish are deeper in the column, try a small quarter- to half-ounce jighead in place of the hook. Another species of snapper abundant in our area that many don't target is yellowtail, but they're finicky. The entire school can shut off fast if things seem abnormal to them. As the anchor draws tight over high-relief structure in depths of 100-200 feet, I usually instruct anglers to sit back and relax. Typically I start chumming for at least 15-20 minutes before we put a bait on a rod in order to get these fish comfortable. Tackle for these fish needs to be stealthy.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.