If you have not noticed, red snapper season is in full swing. We are still allowed to keep these fish for two more days, on Friday and Saturday of this week. Most of this report will be tailored to red snapper fishing. When picking a spot to fish for red snapper, try to remember that there are (or were) plenty of these fish all over the coast, so any reef can hold snapper. I have been finding the bigger ones 40 miles offshore at steeples, but I know plenty of guys finding sows in 100 feet of water or less. The difference between catching fish and not catching fish will come down to your tackle. Red snapper season opened up for commercial vessels before it did for recreational vessels, so these fish have had lines dropped on their heads all month. They have seen every leader, swivel, crimp, and hook known to man. Because of this, you will have more success with lighter leader, thinner hooks, and an overall more stealthy approach.
Squid will work for red snapper, but the live baits will usually entice the bigger ones. Try finding a pod of pogies (menhaden) or herring and cast netting them, or use a sabiki rig tipped with squid at an inshore reef to catch grunts. Make a live bait rig with a cross line or three way swivel. Use lighter test braid to connect the sinker, that way, it will breakaway if snagged on the bottom. Use 6 to 8 feet of leader. I normally use 80lb flourocarbon but because of the pressure these fish see, I have had more success on 60lb pink fluorocarbon lately. Hook the bait through the mouth, starting from the bottom, pinning the mouth shut. Be sure to hook the bait properly or else it will spin itself onto the mainline on the way to the bottom. While someone holds that rig, fish a knocker rig baited with squid and see what’s down there. If you start catching sea bass or other bottom fish, red snapper are most likely in the area. Be sure to have a venting tool onboard to assist in a clean release of snappers that are not going in the ice box. Seas look to remain calm for the week in the 1-2ft range inshore, and closer to 2-3ft for offshore waters. Winds are forecasted to be out of the south at 10-15 knots for Thursday and Friday, before coming down a notch to 5-10 knots for the weekend. Be safe out there and keep your head up, there is a lot of traffic out there right now. Best of luck!
I did not fish inshore at all the past week. This report is for offshore fishing only. Nearly everyday this week was spent trolling in 250+ feet of water. The mahi bite was slower than the previous week, but with patience we were able to find at least one gaffer for the box everyday. Mahi are aggressive opportunistic feeders, which is one reason they will eat at night during a full moon phase. With the new moon this week, I am hoping for dark nights, and angry hungry mahi during the daylight hours. A large sailfish was caught and released last week, in about 300 feet of water at about 9:30 am. I highly recommend finding a way to get at least one of your baits down deep. Ballyhoo with chugger heads was the go to, but I have been having more luck with strips rigged onto number 8 trolling hooks with sea witches and squidlies. This combination is also deadly for big kingfish on the planer rod at the inshore reefs. If using this trolling rig for big kings, rig with wire leader instead of monofilament leader. The weeds offshore were really scattered all week, making trolling a constant battle of keeping lines clear of weeds. As soon as I could get free of weeds and get everything swimming properly, the beautiful sound of drag screaming would hit my ears. I recommend having all baits rigged, brined, and ready to go the night before to save time out there so you can use it to keep your lines free.
Toward the end of the week, winds began to remain consistent out of the southeast, and weeds started to gather more. I am hoping to find a more defined weed line this week but it might be a long shot with the shifty winds. Bottom fishing went well at steeples. Scamp grouper, snowy grouper, almaco jack, and of course red snapper were all seen throughout the week, some multiple times. I have been trying new cut baits and this week the hot ticket seemed to be bonita chunks. Seas look to remain in the 2 foot range most of the week, with a small jump at 2-3 foot towards the end of the week. Winds look to come from the west/northwest on Tuesday at 5-10 knots before shifting south/southeast for the end of the week. The gulf stream is 42 nm east of Ponce Inlet. Be safe out there and bring foul weather gear for those summer storms. If you see me around stop and say hello, I always love to learn new things from other fisherman. Thanks and have a great week y’all.
New Smyrna Beach & Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Reports
Check back every week for the latest inshore and nearshore fishing reports for the New Smyrna Beach area.