Snapper Fishing in the Gulf with Team Evinrude Pro, Kim Bain-Moore

There’s only way to describe it; snapper fishing in the Gulf is awesome. It’s also one of my favorite things to do during the month of June! Healthy populations of Gulf red snapper provide anglers with plenty of opportunity to put fresh fish on the table as well as the chance to get your arms seriously stretched. So, if you’re specifically on a snapper mission or opting for a brief “dinner” stop on the way back to port, here are a few ideas to help get you started. After all, the season is fast approaching and it’s time to start getting ready. Yahoo!

 

kim bain snapper 1

 

Season

 

According to the Gulf Of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, the red snapper season for the gulf begins June 1st. 2013. The end of the season is to be announced.  Be sure to check all state and federal laws and requirements for your target species before hitting the water.

 

Louisiana have extended their state waters out 12 miles and as of next week, anglers will be able to fish for snapper year round with the limit being 3 per person per day. Confirm all state regulations on Fish & Game websites

 

Size & Bag limit

 

Bag limit of 2 per person, 16” TL minimum.

 

Finding Snapper

 

When looking for red snapper in the gulf concentrate your efforts around structure.  We like to target rigs, wrecks or rock piles and locate them using the sounder to spot the schools (which typically show up like a giant Christmas tree on the screen).  The bigger snapper seem to hold at the top of the school.  If you drop your lure or bait all the way to the bottom each time, you typically catch the smaller fish.

 

We target snapper between 50 – 200’ of water.

 

Techniques

 

There are a lot of techniques that you can use for catching snapper: Here are two that we commonly use on our boat “Crikey”…

 

Bucktail jigs

 

Fishing for snapper with bucktail jigs is just like bass fishing. It’s by far my favorite technique to use. Once we have located a suspended school of snapper, get in anglers position at the bow of the boat, cast a 2-6oz buck tail jigs up current of the school and let the jig freefall on a slack line. Casting up past the school allows for the jig to get down to the right depth by the time it reaches the snapper. Alternatively, if you cast directly at the school, by the time your jig gets down to the right depth, the current will have swept it away from the fish and the strike zone.

 

If you have located the fish holding close to the rig or platform, use a pitching motion, just like bass fishing, to get your jig in the right spot without hanging up.

 

We usually count the jig down about ten to fifteen seconds, but it will depend on where the snapper are suspending in the water column.  When you get a bite, you should feel it and notice that the fish has knocked a small amount of slack into the line (especially with braid as it floats on the surface).  Once you get a bite – reel up the slack and SET THE HOOK!!! Then start pumping and winding quickly to get as much line back as you can. The quicker you can get the fish away from the bottom or structure the better as it has less chance of breaking you off.

 

We fish out of a center console (powered by triple 300 Evinrude E-TEC engines), so one member of the team will typically stay at the helm watching the sounder and telling the anglers what depth the fish are marking at. The boat remains running, in neutral and ready to back up off of the rig at any time. This keeps the boat clear of danger and can assist if you hook a really big fish that is difficult to get up and off the bottom.

It’ll come down to personal preference and confidence when picking bucktail jig colors. We like white and white variations like white & chartreuse, white & blue etc.

 

Give it a go – not only is it a super fun and exciting way to fish, it’s very effective for snapper!

 

kim bain snapper 5

 

Bait rigs

 

This is a common technique used for snapper – the dropper rig or “chicken” rig, as it is also known.

 

It’s really simple. First, tie a loop using a ‘dropper loop’ knot in the 50lb fluorocarbon. Once the loop is created, pass the end of the loop through the 7/O-8/O circle hook eye and pass it over the hook bend and tip and cinch it down to secure it.  Throw a 4-10oz weight on the bottom of the leader, some bait of your choosing on the hook and drop it down to the fish. You’ll feel fish biting it but with circle hooks, wait for the steady pull and then lean back and reel (as opposed to setting the hook).

 

You can use both techniques at the same time – just drop the “chicken rig” over the side and have the bucktail jig anglers at the bow.

 

Tackle

 

Tackle is all about personal preference. Both conventional and spin outfits work well for snapper in the gulf. When using dropper rigs (aka “chicken rigs”) with a 4 -10oz sinker and bait we usually opt for a conventional reel. When using bucktail jigs, we use a 7’ medium to heavy action spinning rod with a light tip partnered with an 8000 size-spinning reel (spooled with 65lb Hi-Seas braided line and a 50lb fluorocarbon leader). Using a spinning outfit allows us to easily pitch the jig up towards the rigs.

 

An additional tool that you will need is a needle for deflating any air or swim bladders of fish you catch and wish to release. When you catch snapper from deep water, their air bladders will usually inflate which prevents them from swimming back down unless you can remove the air. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of the fish and how you can correctly deflate it without causing harm.  Be responsible for correctly handling the fish and respectful of the resource.

 

Additional catches

 

Cobia, amberjack, mangrove snapper, grouper (be sure to check the seasons and restrictions for the various species).

 

My Favorite Snapper Recipes

 

  • Old fashioned fish & chips (rocking’ out the ‘panko’ crusting on some snapper ‘fingers’ – you can even add some ground pecans for something a little different & fresh cut potato fries! YUM)
  • Parmesan crusted snapper
  • Baked snapper with lemon

kim bain snapper 3

 

What’s your favorite way to catch and prepare snapper?