How to Catch Northern Red Snapper

A left hand holding a big fresh red snapper with sea and blue sky background

Northern red snapper is a type of fish with a great commercial importance, and obviously, they’re as well considered superior game fish. The red snapper is common on the south-east coast of the Atlantic Ocean, with a higher concentration in the Gulf of Mexico.

In general, they are bottom feeders; preferring bottoms with a large number of structures, such as oil rigs, shipwrecks, natural and artificial reefs or rocky bottoms. They can be caught at depths of up to 300 feet, but they generally stay with water between 30 and 200 feet. They travel and feed in schools, so if you catch one, you can definitely expect others in the same place and on the same fishing lures.

The snapper prefers water temperatures between 60 degrees Fahrenheit – 80 degrees, and responds very well to different types of baits, at different depths, especially during spring and summer, when the water temperature does not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usually, they are soft biters and tend to nibble and mouth the bait before taking it, which is the reason rods with a more sensitive tip are indicated. When they are caught, they put up a very tough fight, usually using strong head-shaking movements, instead of long runs, or heavy drops, like the giant Trevally for instance.

They prefer the Open Ocean, and fairly deep water, so it is less likely to catch them in the surf, or from piers. Fishing for Northern red snappers requires a boat, and most fishermen use different methods to catch them, such as jigging, bait-casting, down-dropping, drifting or still fishing.

Fishing for snapper can be done using fishing lures, but live or fresh, cut bait is always better received. Their natural diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, and molluscs. Therefore, some of the best baits to use for Northern red snapper are cigars minnows, squid, snails, squid, snails or mussels, sardines, snakes, shrimp, crabs, squid, snails, mussels, herring, amber, you can check out any fishing online store for more information on the best bait.

Combining fishing lures such as Bluefox Skarpsildas, Yo-Zuri Blanka or the Metallic sardine with cut baits, can result in more bites. However, if you’re going to do 100% artificial lure, shrimp or imitation squid, like soft shrimp mayonnaise, or salty Berkeley Gulp squid. Also, Snap Fins or Dua Molits swim can do the trick.

Another successful way to catch a snapper is by anchoring up and then throwing over some berley on to the reef.

Then, using an extremely light jig head,  so as not to let it sink to the bottom and prevent snagging, bait up one rod while leaving the next one with the soft plastic at the back of the boat trailing behind. It is not necessary to get down deep as most of the Northern red snappers are not at the bottom, but halfway between the top and bottom of the reef or shallow.

When fishing with the lure, it is best to choose the braided line, within 20-50 lb. test range, depending on the size the snappers you are targeting are. This is because braided has less elasticity and you will have a better contact and feel of the fishing lure in the deep water.

For still fishing, 40 to 50 pound monofilament fishing line will be okay. It is best to choose a rig with the sinker at the end of the main line, with 1-2 hooks attached to the main line by a 3-way swivel. The best option for leaders in term of fishing line is 50 pounds. Fluorocarbon.

Since red snapper like their food to look as natural as possible, you may want to choose hooks, especially if you are using larger baits, such as rag-worms, eels or shrimp.