What's hot: With the gag and red grouper closing for the next two months it's time to change gears and focus on hot light tackle fishing offshore for amberjack, mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper and lane snapper. The good thing that is coming out of these new regulations is that they are making better anglers out of all of us. We need to make every trip count, so trying new and different things is a great way to learn new tactics.
Tips: Fishermen usually just buy a couple of chum blocks, toss them in the water next to the boat and let them do their work. The trick in riling up bottom fish is to get the chum on or near the bottom. Achieve this by tying the chum to the anchor. A bit of light mono will do the trick. You could also use a down-rigger and tie the block to the ball and let it down to the desired depth. And another method is to anchor about 50 yards up tide of the structure you are fishing and start a steady stream of 1 inch by 1 inch sardines over the side.
Tackle: Snappers have great vision and get weary when feeding. To ensure a great bite, downsize tackle to light weight spinning outfits with 10- to 15-pound mono on the reel and 15-pound fluorocarbon leader for the leader. A small circle hook will get the job done. A small plug of sardine floating down toward the structure with a hook in it will get their attention. This works great for mangrove and lane snapper. Yellowtails and flags need more preparation. Rigs and locations are the same, the bait is the key. Use medium live shrimp. Though these fish are in our area all year, larger concentrations are caught during late summer after their mid-summer spawn.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.