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Discussion Starter #1
I am learning by trial and error. Help me with my errors. :):)

I have been out twice from Destin seeking red snapper on the near Shore Reefs. Fishing 65 to 85 feet of water. First, I am not marking the structure most of the time. I zoom in on my Simrad, but not seeing structure. First trip out, I caught sand perch and one nice king troling to the pass with the whole dead cig. Next trip, we caught quite a few sand perch and 2 Vermillion snapper. Couldn't find the box cars or the tank out there on the radar.

Thank you for your patience.

Questions:

Should I be going out 9 to 10 miles?

What's up with the GPS coordinates not showing structure?

If I see schools of bait with Fish marked in them, are these likely to be snapper? Even if there's no structure? Are marks down 20 to 30 foot likely to be snapper?

I am using snapper rigs from bass pro shop. I'm sure the line is not fluorocarbon. Do I need to be tying my own rigs?

I've been using dead cigar minnows and the bait boat is not out at the end of the past when I get there about 6:30 AM. Is it essential that I have a live bait, such as cigar minnows or something I catch out at the end of the past? I have been hearing that some people have trouble catching bait on Sabiki rigs and keep picturing it taking a long time when I want to get out .
 

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skeeterbay
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You really really really need to get with a Capt and have him take you and your boat out to get you dialed in on rigs and how to use your electronics. 2 days of catching bait, rigging, electronics, trolling to find new private spots, etc and you will learn more than you would from 5 years of what you’re attempting right now. You’re wasting too much time and gas the way you’re doing it currently.
 

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I wont claim to be THE guy to ask these questions to, but I certainly have some experience.

1. Generally speaking, the farther you go, the less pressure the reefs have. But during Snapper season all the reefs with in that range are getting hit. Just a matter of finding one with less traffic. A couple weeks back, I was fishing out of Destin(usually out of Pensacola) and we slammed em. We were no more than a mile offshore. But we were 10 miles west of the pass.

2. Not 100% about this one. Ive been to the reefs you're talking about and have definitely seen them on the bottom.

3. Its no guarantee, but yes, they certainly could be. Hell, if you get them really going with chum. You'll catch a ton within the first 20 feet of the water column.

4. Absolutely yes! There are an absolute ton of methods on YouTube, so Im not even going to go into that. Just know that they are stupid simple.

5. Frozen cigs do work, but they break apart so easy in my opinion. Maybe bring squid too. So, no, live bait isn't a must. But live bait IMO works much better. Also, with baitfish. They dont have to be cigs. Pinfish or other small baitfish like that work awesome as well. Stop at a grass flat and throw your cast net a few times. Works like a charm
 

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lobsterguy
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800 Posts
Bait?

Pinfish trap or cast net. It is good to be able to throw a cast net but a pinfish trap will work quick on grass flats if you have some good bait in it. Have enough dead bait to use for chum when you get there. Keep it contained so you don't simply pour it over board and lose it all in seconds. A chum pot or similar unit to keep the bait from dispersing as soon as it hits the water. Have plenty of assorted baits and use them all. Squid, dead bait as well as live bait should put you in the game. As stated here before close to shore, means close to all anglers. Farther from shore, less pressure on your targets. Keep your eye on your sounder and not just on your chart plotter. If you see a bump in the bottom STOP and DROP on it. You may have found your honey hole. If not remember what you are doing now is not working as well as you would like it to so you have lost nothing. Never give up. The fish are out there, not on the beach. Best of luck. Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Appreciate what you're saying

You really really really need to get with a Capt and have him take you and your boat out to get you dialed in on rigs and how to use your electronics. 2 days of catching bait, rigging, electronics, trolling to find new private spots, etc and you will learn more than you would from 5 years of what you’re attempting right now. You’re wasting too much time and gas the way you’re doing it currently.
I have been out with a captain but at the time it did not occur to him to me to ask him some of these questions. For example when we went out, we bought live cigar minnows. Lately I do not see bait boat. From what I am reading, things change and you have to adapt. So I am asking some specifics for a jumpstart. I do appreciate what you mean when you say it would take five years to learn all this. How did you know I'm 67?
 

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Hiring a local captain will take years off the learning curve and save you more money in fuel than it will cost. The bait guy has been out there every day, turn you vhf radio to channel 80 and ask where he is or just listen to the chatter, you will hear his location. The best way to find spots that aren't public is to troll pulling a couple of lures for kings or bonitas and watch your bottom machine. Zoom it in to see the lower 30-40 ft of the bottom, that's why you aren't seeing the structure you are trying to see. When you see a spot with a good "show" of fish, mark it, come back and fish it. A good snapper show will look like a large red spike, 20 ft tall or more on your machine. As has been said, all the public stuff has been hit hard this late in the season. Spend some time trolling and find stuff that isn't public, there is a ton of it out there. Live bait works better, but cut bait will catch you fish also. I find that using the frozen cigs whole works better than trying to cut them up.
 

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Jaded Old Phart
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5,909 Posts
Depends where you got your GPS#s from. I found quite a few #s way off from Strikelines.
Ones from here http://fishingdestinguide.com/ are pretty spot on.
If you were hitting the "reefs" from what I've seen on my machine, its almost as flat as the sand bottom unless you zoom in.

Radar???
 

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I am learning by trial and error. Help me with my errors. :):)

I have been out twice from Destin seeking red snapper on the near Shore Reefs. Fishing 65 to 85 feet of water. First, I am not marking the structure most of the time. I zoom in on my Simrad, but not seeing structure. First trip out, I caught sand perch and one nice king troling to the pass with the whole dead cig. Next trip, we caught quite a few sand perch and 2 Vermillion snapper. Couldn't find the box cars or the tank out there on the radar.

Thank you for your patience.

Questions:

Should I be going out 9 to 10 miles?

What's up with the GPS coordinates not showing structure?

If I see schools of bait with Fish marked in them, are these likely to be snapper? Even if there's no structure? Are marks down 20 to 30 foot likely to be snapper?

I am using snapper rigs from bass pro shop. I'm sure the line is not fluorocarbon. Do I need to be tying my own rigs?

I've been using dead cigar minnows and the bait boat is not out at the end of the past when I get there about 6:30 AM. Is it essential that I have a live bait, such as cigar minnows or something I catch out at the end of the past? I have been hearing that some people have trouble catching bait on Sabiki rigs and keep picturing it taking a long time when I want to get out .
Yes. The further out you go the less pressure there is. There's no harm in stopping 7-10 miles out, you may be able to pick up a quick limit and save some gas but farther out is easier fishing.

Sometimes wrecks get buried or pulverized in storms. It's frustrating, but buying an ECRA membership gives you access to confirmed numbers for a little more confidence. You can also target natural bottom to have larger areas to fish so if you're off a bit it won't matter a whole lot.

There's a lot of snapper out there, so quite possibly. They aren't always on the bottom. Hell I was trolling back home in 100' of water and picked up a triple hookup of red snapper on a stretch, a yozuri vibe and a crystal minnow. They aren't always on the bottom.

Absolutely tie your own rigs. It's easier and a hell of a lot cheaper. Thread an egg sinker on, put a bead on it, tie a uni knot to a snap swivel, tie your leader material to a barrel swivel and a hook with unis. It takes 3 minutes per rig tops, it's far more versatile and dependable. You're looking at maybe $3 per rig?

You can never have too many options for bait. I always bring frozen cigs for trolling and chum, frozen squid, buy live bait or catch some bonita. Yesterday nothing would touch live or frozen cigs but the squid saved the day.
 

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First, snapper aren't the smartest fish in the ocean...they'll eat anything from a live pinfish to the sole of a rubber boot. I will say that some days they can be downright finicky and want a specific bait or to have it presented in the right way. An example on my recent Pensacola trip, I could barely get them to touch live bait on a chicken rig but a Carolina rig laid on the bottom and then fed to them when they initially took the bait worked great. Catch some bonita and use a large chunk of that...the skin's pretty tough and won't come off as easily as a cigar minnow. I agree that public spots inside 10 miles in Destin get pounded. Try trailering your boat to Pensacola and look at some of the spots inside 20 miles East of Pensacola. The boat traffic always seems to be less for me and there are a ton of public spots that hold fish. Sometimes using a scaled down fluorocarbon leader will help too. As far as bottom structure, look on YouTube for how to dial in your bottom finder. Auto settings may look pretty in the store but you'll miss a TON of fish if you don't up the sensitivity and zoom in on the bottom. If your Simrad is fairly new, make sure you download their latest "Fishreveal" update. http://ww2.simrad-yachting.com/en-GB/News/All-News/FishReveal-software-update/ It's a game changer with what it shows versus the normal downscan. Good luck and keep chugging at it. The others above also had great suggestions of trying to chum them up too.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update

I went out a week ago on a Thursday and tried some new spots, and did not do great, but I decided to make the big move out to about 105 feet of water, probably 15 miles out. I did mark some structure and a lot of fish. They were not hitting much and my drift was fast. So we went out the next day to the same spot. We were busy all morning with reds, vermillion, a lone and a king. I changed the color of the X on that spot to green for a return trip. We were catching snapper on bottom and on a flat line too. So we will keep up the hunt! (Snapper season out, but I loved the variety of fish on that structure.)

We are novices but the three of us still caught five nice reds, 11 vermillion, a king and 3 remoras. That was something new! Sharks and dolphins were there so we knew we were in the right place.
 
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