Take time to find new snapper spots
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
For the past few years with our very short federal fishing seasons for red snapper I, and probably you, have put very little effort into finding new structure on which to fish. Each trip I would run out to my ‘honey holes’ and quickly catch our fish. With so few days, I didn’t want to spend any of them looking for fish. I wanted to make sure we were catching fish!
Then the season would end and I always knew I should have invested some time to find new spots for next year. But on those days I did head offshore after red snapper season, I wanted to be trolling or targeting species that were in season. So red snapper season would roll back around the following year and I would fish the same few reefs once again. They produced fish, but I knew I needed and wanted more options when it came to snapper fishing. My fear is always one day I would come up on my favorite spot and the fish would be gone and I would have no backup plan.
Most of us just don’t get that many trips offshore, so we all want to make those days as productive as possible. Maybe we need to change our thoughts a bit on what is a productive trip. With the additional federal red snapper days we have been granted, now I feel like I can take the time to find some new spots. If you are at all like me, finding a new quality spot is almost as exciting as catching the fish.
With Alabama having more reefs than any other state a good place to go looking for new spots is around any of the state’s published reef numbers. Of course, everyone wants to find a ‘private spot’ that NO ONE else has, but there aren’t nearly as many of those out there as everyone thinks. But there are plenty of spots to be found that have very little fishing pressure on them, and those are the gems to find.
Finding new reefs takes some time and patience, from both you and your crew. The best days to go scouting are the calm days. Light winds make it much easier to stay on a spot once you mark it on your bottom machine. Calm days will also give you a much better chance at staying on the spot to drop down a bait to find out if it is holding fish. Professional captains can hold on a spot in any sea condition. I don’t have that skill set, so I need a cooperative sea to be successful.
I like to try to find spots that are grouped close together. Even if you mark a public spot (and they do hold fish) there may also be a small piece of structure, or an entirely different structure that is just off the published coordinates that doesn’t get fished nearly as much as the public number does. I like to pick two public reefs about a mile apart and then just ease from one to the other while staring a hole in my bottom machine screen to see if I can see even the tiniest piece of structure appear. Once I do, then I work all around that new structure to see if there is something bigger in the area and if my sonar is marking fish.
With our extra days this year, red snapper season no longer feels like a ‘derby’ where you have to catch your fish as fast as possible because the window to do so is so small. Take some time, enjoy the hunt for new spots and you’ll be rewarded this year and have more spots to fish in years to come.