Fishing near shore areas is a strategy that all but dried up for us last week. Either the grouper were not feeding or the areas are fished out. We tried numerous areas in 45-55 feet and had to move out to 90 to get some nice keeper gags, red grouper and huge mangrove snappers. The action on the mangrove snappers was immediate and sustained the bait for more than an hour. Our best results came with little live pinfish for bait. The snappers were aggressive and made the fishing extremely fun. We produced a limit of mangrove snapper for four of us and released another 15. Three snappers tipped our boca-grip at more than 7 pounds. Thirty-pound class tackle with 2-ounce sinkers and two aught hooks topped with a green glowbead worked the best. Many snapper were caught on frozen sardines cut in half. Our biggest snapper resulted from live bait. The big gag grouper fed first. We ended up with six gags, two red grouper and three nice triggerfish while at 90 feet. The triggerfish were caught with squid and light tackle. Amberjacks stacked offshore springs and a wreck. For gut-busting action, be in 90-130 feet. The key to big amberjacks is large bait. We have been catching pinfish, weighing more than 1 pound, near John's Pass. These huge pinfish have been the key for the big jacks. The water temperatures offshore 90 feet and deeper are about 10 degrees warmer then near shore.
_ Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396 or e-mail him at Huffyltampabay.rr.com.