Loading up on those blackfin is usually a breeze, but getting down to monster AJs and grouper, skipping over pesky out-of-season red snapper, is what any serious angler wants to do during his September bottom-fishing time.
And two of the best ways of accomplishing this includes using larger hooks and running to deeper water.
"We stopped at some of the shallower platforms but we couldn't get around the snapper." recreational angler Gene Dauterive said recently. "So we just ran about 120 miles out for most of our amberjack."
Dauterive and his crew launched out of Cypermort Point and stopped at multiple oil platforms on the way out. They also trolled along some grass lines with hardtails and shrimp boats, picking up numerous blackfin.
"Man the sharks were crazy around the shrimp boats, though. They were eating our blackfin in half," crew member Collin Bercier said.
Fishing will usually be good around shrimp boats dumping their load but, grass lines and structure will hold fewer sharks — especially closer to grass or structure.
"The sharks were too intense around the shrimp boat, so we just trolled the grass lines and picked up most of our blackfin," Dauterive said. "Then we ran to about 1,200 feet and hit a rock pile that they call The Picket Fence."
Dauterive's crew picked up most of their amberjack and one grouper at this rock formation. According to Dauterive, the depth on top of the Picket Fence is about 300 feet.
"We dropped down to the bottom for the grouper and lost some big ones that got caught in the rocks, but we picked up one 30-pounder," Dauterive said.
The advantages of running 120 miles out to the Picket Fence are dodging the red snapper bite and the possibility of catching warsaw grouper and monster AJs.
"We were the only ones out there because it was right after the hurricane," Dauterive said. "We usually just chum the fish closer to the surface and put about 24 ounces of weight on and drop to the fish as they are coming up. Of course, as they say, the bigger the bait the bigger the fish."
Dauterive used whole hardtails and slabs of bonita for bait to stock his ice chest with AJs, including one that tipped the scale at over 80 pounds.