The American Red snapper is well known for their high quality taste, game, and cultural value. Commonly reaching over 10 pounds, these big snappers are great for any angler with a big enough boat to get out to 100 feet of water or so, find some structure, and drop some bait. Fortunately, they are rather easy to catch when you know how. That’s why below, we list top ten tricks for catching Red snapper.
Ten Things to Remember when Red Snapper Fishing:
1. Fish all depths with likely habitat.For the most part, Red snapper are a deep-dwelling species. They’re not always in 200 feet though, they’re sometimes in as shallow as 30 feet if the habitat is right. There are plenty of places, especially up in the panhandle of Florida where this can occur, so be sure to cover these shallow bases before running 10 miles offshore for the same fish. Offshore red snapper fishing.
2. Fish structure.Where you find structure, you’ll find the Red snapper. These fish are always on structure, with the exception of the rare cases when you may find them on the move to other structures or a local spawning site. Look for them on anything – natural reefs, artificial reefs, rocks, ledges, wrecks, and oil platforms.
3. Save your numbers (coordinates).Tagging studies have shown that Red snapper don’t really move around that much once they reach a good habitat. So if you catch a good number of fish over one particular spot, save the numbers and go back another day! Chances are, the fish haven’t moved on.
4. Fish in the summertime.Summer is the best for two reasons. For one, the fish are plenty hungry as they are in the peak of their spawning season in June and July. Secondly, the seas are the calmest during this part of the year, which always makes for great offshore fishing.
5. Try chumming over shallow reefs.Like mentioned in tip #1, Red snapper aren’t always incredibly deep. Sometimes they’re as shallow as 30 feet. Try chumming them up to the surface with chunked fish. This will make the fish go into a frenzy for one, and it will also bring them far away from the structures that they may pull you into to cut your line. Chum bait for catching red snapper.
6. Live bait is always best.All snappers are weary, and often don’t bite when something looks off (like the fish is completely dead). When the fish are being finicky, live bait will always get the bites, as a school of Red snapper will always go after a big shiny cigar minnow flicking about.
7. Try out a vertical jig.Surprisingly, some lures work great for catching Red snapper. One such lure is the vertical jig – a metal lure meant to be dropped straight down (hence the vertical part), and jigged to look like an injured shiny fish. This seems to work well for catching big Red snapper, especially when the fish are biting well. Red snapper vertical jigs.
8. Use heavy tackle when fishing strong currents.If you’re fishing in areas with strong currents, like many deep-reef sites in the Atlantic Ocean, you’re going to need to use heavy tackle. Not because the fish are that much bigger, but because you’re going to need some serious weight to get the bait to stay in the right spot. Otherwise, your bait may drift far away from where you think it is, and will result in far fewer bites throughout the day.
9. Always use a fluorocarbon leader.Red snapper – like all snappers – have excellent eyesight. They also have teeth! Because of that great eyesight however, wire leaders are completely out of the question, as no snapper is going to bite a bait with a big piece of clearly visible metal sticking out of it. Fortunately, fluorocarbon line is very resistant to abrasions and cuts from teeth when thick enough (use an 80-to-100 pound leader), and is also nearly completely invisible in the water. So whether you’re using monofilament or braided line, a fluorocarbon leader will always result in more fish. Fluorocarbon leader for red snapper.
10. Use the reel with the fastest gear-ratio.Red snapper are usually in fairly deep water. Like many bottom fishing anglers know, if you’re on a pretty good spot, chances are, some big predators are lurking nearby. This can include anything from sharks to goliath groupers, and big barracudas. Long story short, you want to get your fish to the boat as soon as possible when these big predators are nearby so your dinner goes to you and not them.
Some of these tips may seem like no-brainers. It just goes to show that these are actually not as difficult of fish to catch as some may thing, but sometimes these things just don’t happen to cross your mind until after you’ve gotten back to shore. Whenever you’re spending hundreds of dollars on fuel to get out to Red snapper grounds, you always want to be as informed and prepared as possible before you go, so we hope that these 10 tips and tricks help you do just that!