Right now every offshore trip brings a new surprise.
Pelagic species such as wahoo and mahi-mahi have been riding the outflows of the Loop current into waters as shallow as 100 feet. Look for current rips with a hint of color change on either side. Once located, set out small jet head lures on the clean side of the rip. Other areas, such as large mats of weeds, should be fished the same way.
Deepwater jigs have also been paying dividends. We dropped Shimano butterfly jigs under the larger mats of grass and other debris, and produced catches of wahoo to 40 pounds. Williamson or Spro jigs should work also.
Red snapper have been cooperating as well. These fish are stacked on most rolloffs in depths of 120 to 180 feet. We are reaching our limit daily, with the majority of the fish falling for frozen sardines fished 20 to 40 feet off the bottom. The larger fish ranging from 10 to 15 pounds have been taken on larger baits such as pinfish and squirrelfish.
Grouper are in their summer pattern, which means they can be found in the cooler, deeper waters off the coast. Looking for better catches at 120 to 240 feet of water. Mobility is the key to better catches. Anchor over your spot and give the bite 15 to 20 minutes, if the fish are active you'll know in this time span. If the bite seems sluggish, with no legal fish caught, move to the next location.
Amberjack have been in the 30- to 50-pound class in depths of 140 to 180 feet of water around wrecks and springs. Most of the fish are taken on live baits, such as pinfish and grunts. But artificial baits, such as jigs and large swim baits, are working as well. Start with live chumming to get the fish to the surface. If they cooperate, pitch a large top-water plug to them. The fast, noisy action drives them into a feeding frenzy and usually produces the larger and more aggressive fish.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.