Primary targets: With all shallow-water grouper closed along with red snapper, we have had to switch gears to find targets offshore. Changing the spot will not do; changing tactics is key. The first step is using lighter tackle. With advances in braided lines coupled with changes in spinning reels, it is possible to target large fish on what seems to be freshwater tackle.
Wreck fishing: Amberjack are abundant on most offshore wrecks and springs in all depths. Many are smaller, running 10 to 20 pounds, which is typical. Artificial baits and some subsurface swimming baits will have these fish in a frenzy. Amberjack love to chase prey. Working these fish on light tackle requires a reel with a good drag system, as they will try to run back into the structure.
More species: Wrecks hold various types of snapper, depending on depth. Use a knocker rig, a small slip lead on the main line with a hook on the end, because it lets bait fall naturally through the water column. Snapper typically stage themselves off the bottom, so this technique works well.
Other targets: Keep an eye out for cobia, which migrate through the area along with king mackerel. Keep an extra rod rigged with 50-pound leader and a 5/0 hook.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.