Welcome to the heart and heat of summer, and full throttle, wide-open snapper fishing! Whether it's fishing the shallow patch reefs and deeper offshore edge of the main reef for mangrove, yellowtail, and mutton snapper, or fishing the wrecks in 150-300 feet of water, snapper fishing is red hot right now! Along with snapper, you can expect some nice grouper, and an occasional “what the heck is that?” fish, as well.
Here are the basics for reef fishing:
First, you have to chum--lots of chum.
Current is also very important. Snapper like some current to feed; they can become temperamental when the current is light or nonexistent.
One thing that goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, is that there has to be fish where you are fishing--this is really important. So how do you know if there are fish where you want to fish? Before you drop the anchor, slowly cruise over your spot and check it with your fishfinder or bottom machine. Hopefully you will mark some fish close to the bottom.
Before you anchor, put your fully loaded chum bag out and make another pass or two where you marked the fish. If they have come up off the bottom, that's a great start.
Anchor up-current of your marks and let your chum do its job for fifteen minutes or so. Most of the time, you should be able to see some activity in your chum slick. If you’re not catching and seeing fish in 20 minutes, move.
Remember to “get lite” to get the bite. Light leader 12-20# is going to make all the difference in the world. You may lose a few more fish on the lighter leader, but you will have way more action.
Soon, you will find a balance taking into consideration water clarity and above surface weather as well (i.e., cloudy or overcast you may get away with a little heavier leader; sunny skies/crystal clear water, you better get lite).
Now that you have the basics, step up your game with live bait. Small to medium size pinfish and pilchards, if you can find them, make great mangrove, mutton, and grouper baits. On the wrecks, it's all about live bait. Yes, you can dead bait them, but I'll take the live option every day. Fifteen-20 foot leaders, minimum 30-50 pound leader, and just enough weight to keep it on the bottom 50 pound mainline.
Spin or conventional tackle is your call--just make sure your rods have the strength to catch fish up to one hundred pounds.
Good luck! The Florida Keys are home to some of the best fishermen and women in the world. Give us a call or hit the docks and let us set up a fishing adventure just for you!
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