Targets: With grouper and red snapper seasons closed for so long, we have had to change gears and target different species.
Species: Florida's west coast is loaded with many species of snapper. Mangrove snapper are the most abundant and can be found inside Tampa Bay around most bridges and rock piles. The Sunshine Skyway is a great place to start. Target main span rock piles by anchoring and chumming with glass minnows or small pieces of cut sardines. Light tackle and small hooks will help. These snapper can be found offshore out to a little more than 200 feet of water. Fishing for them in these depths requires a little more weight, but the technique is the same, with lots of chum. Yellowtail snapper are much more prevalent in southern waters, but a few tricks will help at your favorite snapper spot. Target them on large, high-profile areas like wrecks and large breaks. Other good spots are rock piles offshore near the pipeline. Anchor well up current and deploy a couple of chum blocks. Next, rig a small spinning rod with little or no lead and float small pieces of cut sardines or shrimp back into the chum slick. Lane snapper can be found at most red grouper spots. They are less prone to be found on structure and prefer smaller roll-offs and areas where hard bottom meets the sand. Their main food source is small crabs and small shrimp found in these areas.
Tackle: The main thing about snapper is, no matter what species, they have great eyesight. So anything you can do to make your terminal tackle less visible will help.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.