Red snapper is one of the most popular of game fish with saltwater anglers. Large, colorful and full of fight when hooked, these impressive fish have a meaty flesh with a delicate taste. Red snappers inhabit deep water near reefs, rocky areas, shipwrecks and other structure that provides cover. When selecting bait, remember that red snappers feed primarily on squid and bait fish. The strength of these fish requires fairly heavy gear and tackle, and a gaff or strong net will come in handy to land a large one.
Employ strong fishing gear for snapper fishing. A heavy duty bait casting rod and reel loaded with 50-lb. test fishing line work well to handle these strong fish.
Rig for red snappers with a spreader rig, and heavy enough weight to resist the current. The weight will get your bait down to the fish fast, and the wires of the spreader rig will allow you to work two hooks simultaneously, improving your chances for a strike. Add two leaders of 5 feet to 10 feet of 50-lb. test fluorocarbon fishing line, which is almost invisible in the water, with size 5/0 to 7/0 fishing hooks tied to the ends. Alternately, try using a single weighted lure tipped with bait on the end of your fishing line.
Bait your rig with live squid, if available. You can also use dead squid, octopus, shrimp, cut bait fish or prawns, according to the Ultimate Fishing Guide. Use large baits to catch large red snappers.
Anchor your boat near a reef, wreck or other structure in water that is between 100 feet and 200 feet deep. Drop your rig straight down, and allow the weight to hit bottom. Then reel back several turns to bring your bait just off the bottom. For a weighted lure, work it in a up-and-down jigging motion, just off the bottom.
Set the hook hard when a red snapper strikes, and reel in fast for the first few seconds to keep the fish from running for cover and cutting your line. Continue to reel in when you can. If the fish struggles and pulls, ease up and allow the fish to tire out. Then reel in again.
Prepare a net or gaff, because red snapper can get large, weighing as much as 80 lb. When the fish hits the surface, net it head first, or hook it squarely in the body with the gaff to bring it on board.
Seaworthy fishing boat
Heavy duty baitcasting rod and reel
50-lb. test fishing line and leader material
Heavy fishing weight
Gaff or net
Items you will need
Regional or federal bans on red snapper fishing may be in effect. Check with your local fish and game service for details on red snapper fishing in your area.
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