Red grouper fishing offshore has been very good lately. We have been targeting deeper rolloffs and hard-bottom edges for great catches of fish ranging from 8 to 20 pounds. Large live baits have been producing larger fish, but we have also been able to fool some of the monsters with large buck-tail jigs. We are catching good numbers of fish in most depths past 90 feet, with the most consistent depths being the 120- to 140-foot range. Anchoring is a the best bet, as drifting will typically scatter the fish on these spots. Big amberjack have been as dependable as the sunset. Most wrecks and springs in the 100- to 200-foot depths are holding large numbers of these fierce fighters. Most fish are in the 35- to 40-pound range but we have been getting larger fish using big baits such as grunts and porgies. Some spots have so many fish that we have been targeting them with large spinning rods and top-water plugs. There is nothing like pitching a plug off the stern and watching 20 monster jacks chasing your plug and crushing it 10 feet from the boat. Mangrove snapper fishing has been spotty. The best bet for us lately has been in 90- to 120-foot depths. Securing a well full of live pilchards will be best, but because of the passing fronts and dirty water near the passes these baits have not been very consistent. The next best thing is a well full of medium to large live shrimp. Rigs are pretty simple though many have their preference. The keen eyesight of these snapper make fluorocarbon leader a must. Hooks must be as small as possible and little or no lead is preferred.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.