Recreational anglers can enjoy a longer red snapper season
“There’s a dense concentration of ’em suspended at around 80 feet, so drop down and see what happens.”
These instructions came from veteran Galveston fishing guide Capt. Tim Young, who was diligently examining a sonar unit at the helm. Without skipping a beat, my fellow anglers and I immediately sent the jigs tied to the end of our lines plunging to the depths below. Once we felt like we had let out about 80 to 90 feet of line, we engaged our reels and began to employ action to our lures.
It wasn’t long before the bouncing of my bait was met by a solid thump. I instinctively set the hook and the others did so as well, seemingly in unison. We had a quadruple hook-up in the works, as our muscles struggled to pull the fish up from the depths.
A few minutes later, four quality red snapper hit the deck. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for us to land the other half of our limits.
From June 1 and on, hordes of anglers will hope to be part of a scene like the one described above as they pursue what’s perhaps the Gulf of Mexico’s hottest commodity — the red snapper. Recreational anglers will get to enjoy one of the longest red snapper seasons they’ve seen in recent years, as the projected season determined by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Coastal Fisheries Division is set to span 97 days. Two of the most important variables these anglers must consider is where they’ll be fishing, and what type of bait they’ll be using to coax a strike from the highly sought-after species.
As far as choosing a location, there are plenty of hot spots in the Gulf that attract a ton of red snapper. The tricky part is finding areas where the larger fish are hiding. Oftentimes, these honey holes lie off the beaten path and away from the summertime crowds. A little research toward discovering new red snapper hideaways can prove to be quite rewarding.
Some of the best areas for catching red snapper can be found in literature on the subject. Rik Jacobsen’s “Texas Offshore Fishing Guide” and “Texas State Waters and a Bit Beyond,” reveal some valuable information for locating red snapper-laden waters in the Gulf of Mexico. These two books can be purchased at www.redsnapperfishing.com.
Most of the larger snapper Texas City resident and snapper fishing fanatic Rick Wilkenfeld catches each summer are over small, hard spots along the bottom, he said.
“I obtained the coordinates for most of these areas from snag books passed down through the group of veteran offshore fishermen I am friends with,” he said.
The “snag books” Wilkenfeld is referring to feature a long list of GPS coordinates that offshore shrimpers have created, based on where they have snagged their nets along the bottom of the Gulf.
“These locations might be a wreck or the remnants of an old well or platform,” Wilkenfeld said. “At one time, Texas A&M University at Galveston could provide public access to snag book archives. Contacting the university and inquiring about this type of information could be extremely advantageous for someone looking to improve their red snapper game.”
As far as bait presentations are concerned, anglers can find success dropping down hardware or natural baits. One deadly artificial rig that will fool a bunch of snapper is a Z-Man HeroZ paired with a 3- to 8-ounce jig head. When snapper are in an area, they have a hard time resisting this soft plastic jerk bait as it darts and dives through the water column.
Using natural baits on a standard bottom rig also is a sure fire way to hook up with quality red snapper. Wilkenfeld prefers to use various live baits he catches around offshore structures on his way to the fishing grounds, he said.
“Big snapper will eat a big bait,” he said. “Don’t be hesitant to drop a large live bait down to the bottom and see what happens. You just might land a fish pushing 20 pounds or more.”
The much-anticipated red snapper season is finally upon us. Remember to be safe, ethical and courteous, and go tangle with some of that summertime red gold.