Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper will continue to be our main target for the next couple of months. While gag grouper remain closed until the end of this month, red and scamp grouper are open and are feeding heavily in depths of 100-160 feet. The typical summer spawn of Spanish sardines has taken up residence in these depths, and the grouper and snapper are right under them. Look in hard-bottom areas for edges and rolls in the bottom with large fish showing on them. When a spot is located, mark it and spin around for a test drop. Position your boat right over the show and drop a mixture of live and frozen baits. You should know if the fish are there in less than a minute. If the desired species is caught right away, anchor and don’t drift. Standard 60- to 80-pound tackle on conventional style setups work fine, but larger spinning tackle make it a bit more sporting. Classic fish-finder rigs with sliding leads work much better than swivel leads because the line moves freely through the lead, thus the fish will not feel any tension when they take the bait. Mangrove and lane snapper are also in these areas. Downsizing rigs to 20- to 30-pound and a smaller lead has been the trick to getting these tasty fish in the cooler.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com