Snapper of all sizes, including huge 20 or even 30-pound fish are commonly caught on dead bait. Squid, pogies, and cigar minnows are always reliable and readily available. But if you want to try to target huge snapper, you need live bait and the bigger, the better. Captain Casey Price on the charter boat Lady D always has a supply of live baits on board. “Big snapper will hit a dead bait, but to consistently target trophy fish, big live baits are your best option.” Pinfish and ruby red lips are two of Price’s and snappers favorites.
On those days when live bait is hard to come by, Price says large chunks of meat also work well. “We use a lot of big bonito strips. But you have to make them big enough so the smaller fish cannot get it in their mouths. That limits the frustrating peck, peck, peck from the little reef fish.” Price also keeps belly meat from other fish they have caught to use during snapper season. “When we catch amberjack and tuna, we use the belly meat, which is usually discarded to make big snapper baits.” Price says his crew cleans the fish and throws the leftovers in the freezer to use at a later date.