Made the trip down from Wisconsin to try our luck fishing for American Red Snapper. Went out the first 2 times with some of my buddies and then a 3rd time with my kids. The seas were not ideal, but were definitely reasonable all 3 days. We fished a variety of spots in depths between the 120 and 160. We used a variety of baits including whole squid, whole sardines, and live pinfish. We tried a large number of different spots, and some were productive with drifting whereas others worked better while anchored.
Day 1 we seemed to be getting quite a few large gags and AJs with live pinfish, so we transitioned to using more dead bait. This produced 5 nice sized ARS and a large red grouper (in addition to the numerous gags and AJs we released).
Day 2 we fished some known structure in deeper waters and got beat up by cudas; broke one of my new reels and cut our lines 3 or 4 times. When we moved off the structure looking for hard bottom, we were able to land another 5 nice ARS along with 14 large red grouper. All different types of baits worked well on the grouper; we just got lucky and drove over some beautiful looking bottom which turned out to be extremely productive. ARS seemed to prefer sardines and pinfish over squid. The snapper seemed to be quite adept at removing large pinfish from our hooks so we had to downsize to either 5-0 or 4-0 hooks in order to actually hook up.
Day 3 I took my kids out and we got another 6 ARS as well as some nice mangrove and lane snappers. We did catch more red grouper but it was a catch and release grouper trip as we had plenty in the freezer already. Each of the 3 days we were able to catch some nice mangrove, lane, and vermillion snapper. They bit on squid, sardine chunks, live shrimp, and baby pinfish. Great times were had by all!
Jeff, we intended to troll the second day but there were clumps of sargassum everywhere and we thought it would make trolling challenging. We saw a school of mahi the last day but only managed to land one small one. We also did hook up with what looked like a wahoo on a free line but unfortunately it ended up shaking the hook.