What's hot: Typically we only have to watch for storms and high winds in this area, but in winter we also have to think about how quick changes in water temperatures affect our quarry. Because gag grouper and red snapper are closed, our focus has turned to other species offshore, including red grouper. No matter which depth you choose during the next few weeks you should find them chewing very well in between the fronts. The best results have been in depths of 80-140 feet with many spots having quite a few fish eager to attack any live or frozen offering.
Tip: The snapper bite is better than I have seen in quite a while. On a recent trip to a series of breaks in 100 feet there were all types of snapper on every break after we anchored just uptide of the break and used a bit of chum.
Amberjack: In cooler months, monster amberjack usually invade nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs in depths of 70-100 feet. This year things have been a little different. With water temps offshore staying in the mid 70s and abundant bait in deep water, these fish have had a hard time leaving their summer hideouts. Look for better action and larger fish in depths of 150 feet or more until the water cools a bit more.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.