Editor’s Note: Captain Randy Boggs of the charter boat “Reel Surprise” in Orange Beach, Alabama, has found a way and a place for you to handpick your red snapper, just like you handpick the tomatoes you want to buy at a vegetable stand.
The red snapper off Alabama’s Gulf Coast are so plentiful during this special fall red snapper season that continues until 12:01 am on November 22 that when the red snapper com
e to the surface, we can see them and put our baits in front of the ones we want to try to catch. On a trip in mid-October, we decided to fish one of the more than 100-decommissioned tanks from WWII and the Vietnam War deployed in the Gulf of Mexico off Alabama’s coast to make artificial fishing reefs several years ago. You can get the locations of these tanks at http://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/saltwater/where/artificial-reefs/. All the public reefs are loaded with snapper, including red snapper. Anyone who has a boat and can get out to those public reefs can catch limits of snapper and many other fish.
When we let our lines down, I noticed that the red snapper were holding high above the tank we were fishing. After we caught one or two of these snapper, I looked out of the wheelhouse on my boat and could see the fish down deep in the water. We started cutting-up frozen cigar minnows and began dropping those bits of cigar minnows into the water above the tank. The red snapper started moving to the surface. At first, the smaller snapper (7-8 pounds) came to the surface. But then the bigger snapper started moving-up to the surface, and we started catching 12- to 14-pound snapper. We could see the fish and pitch our baits in front of the red snapper we wanted to catch. We watched the fish eat the baits and let them take-off line before we set our hooks on them.
Besides being able to see and handpick the snapper, we caught all our fish on light-tackle spinning reels. We began fishing with 10-pound-test monofilament. All of our fishermen had a great time battling those first snapper on that light line. When we started seeing 12-14-pound snapper, we changed to 30-pound-test line. We just couldn’t land those bigger snapper on the lighter line.
Once our fishermen spotted snapper they wanted to catch and pitched
their baits out in front of their designated fish, then just as a snapper inhaled a bait, the angler would flip the bale on his spinning rod. The line would free-spool as the snapper swam off with the bait. This way, we could make sure that the fish not only had the bait in its mouth, but also the circle hook. Next after about 4 seconds, the angler would flip the bale back to the closed position, and let the snapper take-up line. As the line got tight, the circle hook would roll in the snapper’s mouth and catch the fish in the side of the mouth. Then all the angler had to do when the line tightened-up was start reeling to fight the snapper and bring it to the boat.
We didn’t just catch red snapper with this technique. We also caught triggerfish, vermilion snapper, amberjacks and king mackerel. Our party really had a good time watching the fish and trying to catch the ones they wanted to catch. Whether you go out on a charter boat, or you take your personal boat out to the tanks, realize that all those tank reefs are
loaded with fish. I checked 12-different tanks, and every one of them had plenty of good-sized, good-eating, good-fighting red snapper and other fish on them. You can fish for, catch and keep all the fish during the week, except you must throw back the red snapper you catch. You can keep red snapper on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during this special fall red snapper season.
For more information about SanRoc Cay Marina and/or fishing with Captain Randy Boggs, call 251-981-7173, or check www.sanroccay.com
. For more information on fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com
. You also can get a fishing report three times each week by visiting the “What’s Biting?” column at www.orangebeach.com/fishing/biting