What's hot: While offshore grouper fishing is closed, try something new. Amberjack this time of year can be found on most wrecks and springs offshore between 100 and 180 feet. Catching these fish can be difficult, because the areas in which they are found are very sensitive to fishing pressure. Often we arrive at these spots only to find other boats there, which results in a slow bite. When this happens, I like to try new baits and techniques before leaving.
Tackle: Diamond jigs have been the go-to lure for amberjack for a long time, but there are many different lures from which to choose. Shimano's new butterfly jigs work well, as do the new Braid Marauder jigs and most of the larger bucktails. These lures, with lifelike designs and colors, are a giant improvement over the old lifeless, colorless lures. I have been on trips where live baits sit for more than 10 minutes while these new baits don't make it to the bottom.
Tips: Amberjack love to chase their prey, which is why the new styles of artificial lures work so well. These jigs should be sent to or near the bottom and retrieved quickly and erratically. Many times these baits will get hit on the way to the bottom, so use a conventional reel. It offers more sensitivity when you are dropping down and your thumb is on the line.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.