Red snapper season is closed as of today in the Gulf of Mexico but there is a great alternative. Mangrove snapper have been on almost every limestone ledge and rock pile. My charter clients this week have enjoyed catching snapper up to 6 pounds in 50 to 70 feet. The most productive spots have been areas with bottom relief of 3 feet or more. The high ledges that are numerous along the Nature Coast have been holding the largest fish.
Techniques: Light leaders in fluorocarbon testing no more than 40 pounds with a No. 2 circle hook will help fool these keen-eyed snapper. Make sure when using cut sardines you hook baits in such a way as to completely hide the hook. For live baits select small pinfish or sardines no more than 3 inches and present them nose-hooked. When tidal conditions slow, deploying a chum bag will often bring the fish right to the boat within view. This is when light-spinning tackle can be used to free-line cut bait back in the chum slick. This technique can produce fast action for these tasty and abundant reef fish.
Capt. Troy P. Sapp with Fins and Tails Guide Service can be reached at (813) 920-6928.