Photo caption: Capt. Chester Reese, with Natural World Charters, out of Carrabelle, Fla., shows off a jig-caught red snapper.
Red Snapper And More On Florida’s Forgotten Coast
If you’ve never made your way to Florida’s Forgotten Coast to spend a day in the Gulf of Mexico catching red snapper, you owe it to yourself to have a go at it.
The red snapper is likely the most prized catch of anglers here, and for good reasons: they make most excellent table fare, they’re absolutely beautiful, they’re easy to catch most days, and it’s hard to beat snapper fishing for a day of friends and family fun.
To give you an idea about how prolific the red snapper are here, let me share a phrase commonly used by local charter captains fishing for other species of fish: “We had to leave that spot because we couldn’t get our bait past the snapper!”
Yes, FWC does tightly manage harvest seasons and bag limits, and it’s frustrating for many, but the fact is, we have a lot of red snapper here! Currently, the Gulf snapper season runs June 11 through July 12.
If you plan on bringing your own boat to the area, fear not; plenty of boat ramps and other accommodations will ensure your experience is a good one. Finding snapper can be as easy as using the many public sites available, just plug them into your GPS and go!
Rigging for snapper is very easy. I’d suggest a minimum of 30-pound-test mainline, and make your leaders with a quality 50-pound-test fluorocarbon.
If using live bait like cigar minnows or Spanish sardines, I suggest you fabricate your leader this way. Attach a swivel to your main line, use 80-pound mono to create a 6-inch leader to slide your egg sinker onto, with another swivel on the other end. Now attach a 5-foot length of fluorocarbon leader with a 3/0 to 5/0 circle hook on the business end. When fishing deep with a conventional Carolina-style rig where the weight slips, you’ll sometimes find that your weight is all the way to the bottom, but your live bait is swimming right under the boat. Securing the weight to the leader rig ensures this doesn’t happen and gets the bait right down to the fish.
Guides here are at the ready to take you, your family and friends out for what promises to be an exceptionally good snapper season, but book early, availability can be limited once the season kicks off.
Many other species of fish are on the chew here too, folks, so don’t overlook the tarpon, redfish, AJs, king mackerel and so much more that awaits both inshore and offshore. Fishing opportunities along the Forgotten Coast are wide open!
By Capt. Randy Cnota
For more info and a complete list of rentals, charters, supplies and more, visit www.floridasforgottencoast.com.