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Discussion Starter #1
So I fished 3 of the 4 days I was in Florida. One with a friend in Pensacola and twice on my bay boat. The first day was later in the morning, until about 3:00pm out of Destin and the last day was Thursday out of Pensacola from 7:00am until about 2:00pm. For the life of me, I couldn't get the red snapper to eat anything. The day I fished private spots with my buddy, we got a limit, but had to cull through several 4-5 pounders to get a couple of 10 pounders in the boat. (unlike previous years). Thursday I caught one keeper lane snapper and released a ~65lb AJ but couldn't get red snapper to cooperate. Caught two that were maybe 8 inches in size. I fished 15-20 public spots inside of 15 miles and here's an example of what I was marking on most spots. I tried live bait, squid and even chummed to no avail. Any suggestion on something else I could have tried? Another frustration was trying to find someone who wanted to go fishing.
 

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Can't help you specifically, but I too had a difficult time catching my two fish limit. Several factors I believe are in play here.
1. Opening the charter for hire fishing two weeks before the regular rec. season sucks for the average boat owner. These guys put a lot of pressure on the public and in shore spots early in the season, as evidenced by the number of smaller fish (just under 16") caught.
2. Lots of rec. guys now have gps enabled trolling motors to keep them right on the spot and eliminates the skill needed to mark and anchor properly. More pressure on the fish.
3. Triggerfish and shark populations, combined with the scare effect of flipper keep the snapper bite timid.
This is what I perceive from my experience this year combined with more than 30 years fishing and diving the Gulf. I did a couple dives in late may on some near shore wrecks before the season opened and saw plenty of big snapper. I'm sure they were all gone by the time the rec season opened on the 11th.
My next trip out I will go very long and deep, if I go at all.
 

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I don't see any structure on the screen. Did you ever mark the reef and fish over it ?

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Yep, not much there, hope the other spots marked up better. Were there many boats on the other locations you fished? If not, you may not have been close enough to the reef. We went late on Tue. waiting on the wind to lay down. Thur. I went by myself, which also made it difficult, but fun nonetheless. Glad I was able to land this bad boy in addition to some mingos to go along with the snapper.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I don't see any structure on the screen. Did you ever mark the reef and fish over it ?

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Yes, I fished several known public spots which included bridge rubble, car bodies, a few wrecks, some natural reefs. Some structure showed better than others...and my graph lit up with fish...they just had lockjaw.

To clarify for anyone else who asks...when I wrote that I had to "cull" through several 4-5 lb fish for larger snapper on Wednesday, I meant catch and release. They didn't sit in a livewell or anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Seagar, 3+ft long.
Smallest hook you can get away with.
Big live baits.
Grow a big beard.
Minus the beard...I did all that. Used 60lb fluorocarbon and a small circle (the size I use for beeliners here in TX, dropped to the bottom and left it slack so something wouldn't feel the weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Get off the public spots.
I live in Texas...only down your way a couple of times a year...definitely not enough time to spend on the water locating private spots. I also am not about to shell out $6-800 to go on a charter to catch two fish. This year just seemed weird...even had trouble getting bait at the Mass. Usually we load the livewell in 15 minutes....I had to cast sabikis to catch them.
 

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Caught a 7 man limit on 80lbs mono leader and a mix of cut bait and live bait today.
You just need to find unpressured fish. That usually means getting further away from the Pass.

If that's not an option for you, then you can certainly catch bigger fish on the closer public numbers, but its going to require a lot of patience!
 

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I talked to a couple boats that had a rough time targeting reds yesterday. We had to settle for football sized mingos ourselves. Live bait with 6' flouro leaders on spots marking a lot of fish and nothing was interested. Full moons definitely make the fish more finicky.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Those of you having a hard catching snapper are using the wrong bait.
There are folks on this forum who say they can catch em with turds.
Minus dynamite...you tell me what bait would have worked. Sorry to be a smart-a$$ but I used large live baits, small live baits, cigar minnows, piggies, cut bait and squid....they turned their noses up at it all. I'm also not a googan...I've fished offshore for years. As others have mentioned, maybe it was the moon phase, the increased heat/pressure or the fact I was inside 15 miles fishing public spots. They simply were finicky this week.
 
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