The Red Snapper is one of the most popular and highly valued fish species. And sooner or later, every angler will get interested in catching one. Luckily enough, they are not hard to catch.
When the thought of catching a red snapper first passed through my mind, I wasn’t too sure where I can find it. There’s a lot of different fish species you can catch from the surf, after all, so how about the red snapper? I decided to do a little research. I didn’t want to just go to the surf and hope for the best.
Can you catch a red snapper from the shore? Red snapper is found in places with a dense structure in 30 to 620 feet deep of water. Catching a red snapper from the beach can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Fishing from piers and jetties and casting into the deep sea may improve one’s chances of catching red snapper.
To catch a specific fish species, you need to know where you will have the best chances of finding them and what they like to snack on.
If you want to find out more about the red snapper, read on as I get into more detail about everything you need to know.
What Is a Red Snapper?
This is one of the most sought-after game fish.
There are a couple of things that make the red snapper so popular.
For starters, one of the best things is that the red snapper is very easy to catch, that is, if you find the area it inhabits.
The distinct and exotic red-colored skin and flesh are making it a sight to be seen.
Red snappers typically get to grow really big. Frequently reaching well over 10, 20 and sometimes even 50 pounds.
And when we add to all that the fact that it has superb nutritional qualities – being a lean source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and fatty acids – you get one fish worth catching.
First, let’s take a look at where this fish is found, because – a little hint – it is not found just about anywhere.
Where Does the Red Snapper Live?
I have got some excellent news for everyone living on the east coast.
And here it is.
The red snapper inhabits the western parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Or in other words, the southeastern offshore areas of the United States. So, if you want to catch yourself some red snapper this season – this is where you need to go.
This, of course, incorporates a pretty big area, so make sure to do some further research to find the best and closest place to you.
The red snapper season usually begins from June to July, but it may vary from year to year. Sometimes there can be a short season reopening during the fall, so make sure to check with the local regulatory authorities.
Red Snappers are not found on the west coast. I was quite disappointed at first when I found out that, as I am fishing in the San Francisco area.
Red Snapper vs. Pacific Snapper
What you can catch on the west coast, though, is the pacific snapper, which is frequently referred to as red snapper.
At first, I was confused because the red snapper is found only on the east coast.
What I wanted to know is whether or not the pacific snapper is the same fish like the red snapper.
Unfortunately, it is not – the pacific snapper is rockfish. The thing is in California and several other states, it is legally okay to call the rockfish snapper or even red snapper.
However, the only things the two fish share is the name and the reddish colors.
How to Catch a Red Snapper?
To better answer this question, we need first to get into a little more detail about the natural habitat and behavior of the red snapper.
What Areas Does the Red Snapper Inhabit?
With the problem of locality out of the way, let’s take a look at where exactly the red snapper likes to hide in the water.
Red snapper is a bottom-dwelling fish.
It can be found at depths starting from 30 and reaching up to 250 feet of water (in some instances, even up to 620 deep ft). The larger and older red snappers usually go deeper while the smaller ones are typically found in shallower waters.
The red snapper likes to stay in places where there’s a lot of structure like rocks, natural and man-made reefs, drop-offs, shipwrecks, and ledges — the more structure — the better.
And one of the good things about the red snapper is that once they find a suitable place, they rarely leave it. This is why there usually are well-established places for red snapper fishing.
You can get yourself a top spot chart from the local tackle shops to see where these public spots are.
Can You Catch a Red Snapper from the Shore?
Because of the deeper water which the red snapper inhabits, it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to catch it from the shore. This is why most of the anglers go offshore fishing with a boat to the areas that are known to have red snapper.
The thing is that the continental surf spreads on average up to 50 miles off the shore, and its depth can vary significantly from 30 to even 1000 feet.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to go offshore fishing ten or more miles into the ocean. Red snapper can be found much closer, given the right depth and structure of the water.
Finding the right conditions while fishing from shore is going to be, in most cases, impossible.
What Fishing Tackle Do You Need to Catch a Red Snapper?
Even though you are not fishing for massive fish like, say, sharks, you may still end up needing a stronger and heavier tackle.
The Fishing Rod
A 7-foot long spinning rod that has a lot of backbone to it and ideally a fast action tip is what you want to have.
The Fishing Reel
Since you will be deep fishing, you should go with a relatively big 6000 to 8000 size spinning reel.
You will be fishing in relatively deep waters, so make sure to choose a reel that has a good gear ratio.
In deeper waters, there are always bigger fish to be found. So, the quicker you can bring it back to the boat, the lower the chances of a predator snapping it out.
The Fishing Line
Long fluoro leaders – are usually your best bet because you want something that is not easily spotted since the red snapper has excellent eyesight.
And for your mainline, use a braided line.
If you are fishing in shallow waters, you can get away with a lighter 20 to 30 lbs. test line. But if you are fishing in deep waters, 60 to 80 lbs. line is what you need.
Using live bait is your best bet, but dead bait also works amazingly well.
You can use any fresh cut baits like squid, bonito belly, pinfish, cigar minnows, porgies, pilchard, crustaceans, and more.
I would recommend experimenting with different bait to see what will work best.
Some anglers also report that vertical jigs can do pretty well with the red snapper.
Don’t go for the heaviest possible sinkers. You need just the right weight that will ensure your bait stays where it needs to and not just drift away to some secret spot.
For a 60 lbs. line, you will want to have a 6 oz. Sinker, and for an 80 lbs. line, you should go with an 8 oz. weight.
A lot of the places may have very heavy currents, which means you might need to use a tackle with heavier weight up to 10 oz.
The Carolina rig is one of the best and easiest rigs to make that can do very well when fishing for red snapper.
Depending on what size red snapper you are going for, you can use anywhere from 6/0 to 7/0 circle hooks.
Final Words on Fishing for Red Snapper
Red snapper is a very peculiar fish that attracts a great many anglers during the summer and makes the small towns of the Gulf and the southeast coast boom with tourists and fishermen.
However, the short season — usually one or two months during the summer — can make things a bit tricky as it means that there will be a lot of people in the same areas with the same purpose in mind.
And although you may not necessarily be able to catch it from the shore, you can get a boat and still have a fun fishing vacation.
Finding the right spot and using the right gear is what will make for a great fishing experience worth sharing.