What's hot: American red snapper fishing in triple-digit depths is hot, but the season closes Friday. On a recent trip to 118 feet, 40 miles southwest of Pass-a-Grille, the bite was on before we got tight on the anchor rope. We caught three dozen and often had to let baits down only halfway to the bottom. Most of the snapper were 7 to 12 pounds, with a couple larger. Be selective; the limit is two per person per day.
Tackle: We could have gone lighter if fishing exclusively for snapper, but we beefed it up a bit to even the odds for grouper. Fifty-pound test line and 60- and 80-pound test fluorocarbon leader did the trick. Four-ounce sinkers were all that were necessary. Six-foot leaders were effective for snappers midway down the water column. Distancing the bait from the sinker in extremely clear water allowed our offerings to be less obvious to the snapper.
Bait selection: Heading offshore with a well full of live bait is always good. The live ones often reignite a tapering bite. But this day we caught nearly all our fish on frozen sardines that doubled as chum on bites we missed.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.