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Discussion Starter #1
This is our first season fishing for snapper on our own boat and we have been struggling. We have been fishing the public numbers in about 80-95 ft of water around 15 miles SE of the pass and have only caught one keeper red snapper. We’ve managed some mangroves but we really want to target reds. I’ve been using a Carolina rig with a 6/0 circle hook with cigar minnows or squid and the one keeper that we caught was on a vertical jig. I see reports of people fishing public numbers and limiting out easily. Are we fishing too deep? Not deep enough? There are a lot of spots a little closer in than where we have been fishing but I just figured that deeper water would yield bigger fish but so far that hasn’t been the case. Any help/tips would be appreciated.
 

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eating tasty
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A larger live bait with a long leader several cranks off the bottom will help. Also, try a knocker rig- there are several YouTube videos of how to tie one. Helps get fish higher in the water column.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try some of the smaller public numbers like tanks and pyramids as opposed to the big, easy to find wrecks and rubble. Smaller spots tend to hold big fish.
 

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What leader material are you using? We use 30 to 40 lb Seagar Fluorocarbon about 2 - 3 feet long. It is pricey as hell but we get bites that others don't. Everything else sounds about right. We have not been out much this year but have heard from others that it has been a tough year. During trigger, we couldn't keep the snappers off the hooks, Weird. Live Cigs or LY's are the best baits for just about anything out there. Squid for triggers.
 

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US ARMY 2d ID VETERAN
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I'm not sure what you're doing wrong, I can only guess you're too far off structure or setting the hook? You didn't say if you were getting bites or not, just that you weren't catching them. If you're getting bites but not hooking up, then you are most likely setting your hook when you feel the bite.
Using circle hooks, you do not set the hook, you just start reeling your line in, the hook will set itself.
Live cigs are the ticket, even cigs cut in half or even thirds. Try chumming, then when you see the one you want, toss the bait to it.
I use minimum of 4' of 50# mono leader on 30# mainline, and the smallest weight to get the bait down. If I keep getting busted off, I crank the bait up higher off the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies. I have been using 80# pound mono leader and we are getting plenty of bites and catching fish, just small ones or the wrong species. I think we will try downsizing the leader and switching to fluorocarbon and go the big live bait route next time.
 

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US ARMY 2d ID VETERAN
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If you're on the bottom, that may be some of your problem. Run your line down to the bottom and crank the bait back up about 15-20' off the bottom. This will help keep most of the smaller fish from biting, they chance being lunch if they go too far up off structure.
 

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Bearded Brotula
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Thanks for the replies. I have been using 80# pound mono leader and we are getting plenty of bites and catching fish, just small ones or the wrong species. I think we will try downsizing the leader and switching to fluorocarbon and go the big live bait route next time.
80 mono is way too big. They're leader shy after being bombarded. 20-30 lb flouro.
 

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Green Eggs And Ham
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I just hook it to my braid with a ball bearing snap swivel, then when we are heading back home I just unhook the leader and coil it back up on the noodle so I am not banging the leads against the rod all the way home, then when I get home wash off with water and use the next trip.

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Discussion Starter #12

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A lot of time my knocker rig with a 1 ounce weight with a long 30 # fluoro Leader gets the majority of larger snapper. We try to fish near the bottoms and up in the column. We always Chumm especially on the shallower structures.
 

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TJ McBoatFace
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I'm admittedly not a fisherman and do more spearfishing...totally different game, BUT I've found that ability to stay on a spot has been a factor for us lately.

Case 1 - 4 guys, public numbers, only frozen squid for bait, outboard w/ no trolling motor. We limited out
Case 2 - 3 guys, same public numbers, frozen squid, some live bait, larger boat w/ inboard one week later. Caught 1 fish.

I'm thinking that my ability to stay backed into a spot w/ an outboard was a key factor. We had better luck when we could stay on the spot rather than drifting across the spot over & over. Sorry to hijack the conversation but I'd be interested in learning what most folks are doing in terms of drifting and or holding over a spot or not and most of all what the best boat technique is when targeting snapper.
 

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If we do not get a bite in 20 minutes, we are moving. Maybe 5 feet, 10 feet, or to another spot. It all depends on what the garmin says. LOVE the I-Pilot, can not fish without one.
 

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Was a tough snapper bite for us this year. Might fish Florida a bit, but I doubt it. I expect FLA to shut down early like Bama did.
 

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I go 6' minimum on leaders, chum and free line a lot in heavily fished areas. That means ZERO drag on the bait as it drifts down and out. Big baits of about a pound will get bypassed or nibbled on by smaller fish. I actually like the smaller snapper to bump the bait around, it seems to make the big ones more aggressive. I was catching fish a couple hundred feet back in the chum last week so don't be afraid to let it drift on out.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sounds like chum is the way to go. An Ipilot is definitely on the list for next season
 
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