by Capt. Bart Marx
Summer time is a great time to do some night fishing for snapper. It is fun to target them at night; I like to travel to my spots that I know hold mangrove, lane, and yellowtail snapper. Go to the spot that you want to fish before the sun sets. This gives you time to get the anchor set and readjust if needed, and then you can start to build your chum line. Some of the guys call it building life, life around your boat. I have a couple of ways to do chum; an old school chum-churn that you stuff fish stuff into and slam it up and down to chop the chum and let it hang over the side (the chum and mess are in the water not your boat) and the sound also attracts fish too. Or a meat grinder that when I clean fish at my house, I set it up and grind up the carcasses to make my own chum blocks. This is nice if you have a freezer in your garage where you can store it. There are several ways to deploy your chum; mesh bags and the vinyl type that have bigger holes to let it go even if you have bigger pieces mixed in. All
methods work well and produce fish. Most of the artificial reefs have goliath grouper that can be a pain in the %&$, if you anchor off of the structure and draw the snapper to you, they are less aggressive this way. It is fun to use a redfish rod to do your snapper fishing, a 4000 reel with 20lb. line and a hook with a piece of cut bait; let it drift down with your chum and when the line starts flying off the spool, flip the bail and get ready for a battle. When you hook into the snappers in the 20” range, they put up a good fight! You can use as little as ten-pound leader to make it more fun. When all things come together, the snapper will rise to the surface and you could even site-cast to them. This is when you need to NOT slam a cooler or hatch lid! Some anglers like to fish like this around the full moon, so it is easier to see and the fish can see too. To me, whenever you can get out there is good. Most of your baits at night can be frozen, like sardines, squid, silversides, shrimp, or frozen white bait left over from an inshore trip. With the addition of the SCARAB to the fleet I am able to do some six-hour night trips, usually starting around 6pm till midnight. Give me a call if you would like to see how night fishing for snapper in SWFL works!