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!
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.