I’ve received A LOT of eMails and forum post about my Snapper fishing, so, here you go…
Generally speaking, in the summer, I don’t even think about trolling… Sometimes I don’t even take my trolling gear. If a friend calls and reports of the ultimate weed line in 500 feet or something unique going on, then that’s different. I focus almost exclusively on bottom fishing, targeting Snapper, Lanes (because they make great use Whole Fried Thai Style) Yellowtail’s (because they’re my favorite) and Muttons (because they can be soooo big if you know how to target them).
In the summers, I also typically don’t go much beyond 65’, I have found the when you get out to the 120 line, there’s just too many bonita, and the bottom fishing renders more big nasty jacks vs. Snapper… Some will argue with me about it, but my experience has been, avoid 120-200’ during the summers, again, just my opinion.
If you don't have a GOOD bottom sounder, get one, otherwise, you're fishing BLIND when it comes to bottom fishing... I live on mine (Garmin 740S with the transducer inside the bottom of the boat, epoxied to the inside of the hull, sending it's signal through the hull of the boat, some people think they don't work well this way, but some say they work better actually)
Don’t do the herd mentality (assuming you have a good fish finder, it’s worth every penny!) A lot of people go out, and they see a lot of boats and go there, assuming there’s fish, but, that’s what 50 boats before you thought too, hence, why there’s so many people there… Get a good bottom sounder (are you getting the point yet? LOL) and find your own spots and mark them. When you’re moving about, always look at your sounder and you’ll find new spots… I marked two new GREAT spots in the just last 2 weeks.
Also, where the “dive boats” are, there’s something interesting for divers to look at, so, generally speaking, that’s a good area, HOWEVER remember you MUST give dive boats at least 200 ft of room (maybe more, someone here will know the LEGAL range) and take this very seriously, I saw a confrontation just last weekend and I’m sure the angler got a visit from the authorities because the dive boat captain took a pic of his reg #’s
I've been having great luck in the 65' range, right on the lump and edges of the lump, these areas are about 1nm north of The Zoo and run north for 2-3nm… Again, get a good sounder…
Generally speaking, I drift over a spot that I'm marking a lot of fish, and then drive back up current and drift over it again and again and again... I catch a LOT of great Snapper doing this... Blindly drifting along, is, well, blind… You’ll get a good tan, but you’ll likely be eating Pizza…
As far as my “standard rig”, I used a chicken rig with a 5oz weight, but up to 10-12oz if the current is blazing and I’m in deeper water. I use double hooks, 2 sets on 50lb fluorocarbon leader.
My standard rod and reel (for everyday Snapper, not the BEAST Muttons) are Shimano TN-20’s with custom rods that I bought at Fishing Headquarters, made by a guy in Stuart (Crowder Rods) that is 6’6” long.
I prefer fresh caught bait, but believe it or not, I don’t put it in the live well, I put a slushy ice water mix in my live well and toss them in… Once I have enough, I head off shore… Either way, fresh caught and slush mix, or boxed sardines, I cut them in half, cut off the tail (so it won’t spin) and put two pieces on my chicken rig, which is two double hooks each (the guys at Fishing HQ can show you EXACTLY what you need and even how to set it up. I moved here three years ago (native of St. Pete) and Jack, Pete, Tommy, et all are just super guys who converted me from my West Coast of Florida Grouper ways and helped me get rigged up for the Proper man’s way of fishing <laughing…>
That’s about as far as I can go…. My secret rig and trick, I just can’t share as I was sworn into a secret Snaponic Society Ritual (just kidding of course), but honestly, 80% of my Snapper are caught with the exact rigs, rods, reels and techniques I cover above…
350 to a max of 375 degrees is the best temp for cooking a Whole Snapper... Too low and the fish will take longer to cook and absorb more oil and maybe be a bit greasy, too high and the outside will burn and the inside under cook. I use peanut oil, pricy, but it really does taste better. For little Snapper in the 12-14" range 3-4 min per side, or 6-7 min if it's submerged (I prefer the sumbmerged method considerably over the flipping because the fish comes out just sooo perfect...
Here's a cut and paste from my recipe
Thai Style Whole Fried Snapper
Snapper Lad Prig - with Jasmine Rice and vegetables with a Panang curry sauce…
Ingredients for the Chili (Lad Prig) Sauce
• 1 Tbs finely chopped coriander roots (If using dried coriander, make this 2 tsp)
• 1 Tbs finely chopped red chilli and 1 Tbs finely chopped garlic
• NOTE – I use 2-3 Tbs of “Ground Fresh Chili Paste” from an Asian food market to replace the chopped red chili and chopped garlic above, much easier- http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Sambal-Oelek-Ground-Fresh-Chili-Paste-8oz-HuyFong-Foods-/11/!C!dLkjQ!Wk~$(KGrHqQOKjYEzowe7Z(7BND!-ls,Fw~~_35.JPG
• 1/3 finely chopped shallot or onion
• 1 tsp thinly sliced and then chopped ginger
• Juice of two limes
• Pinch of sea salt
• ¼ cup water
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup tamarind puree, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes then sieved, liquid reserved (if you can’t find tamarind juice, add a little more lime juice)
• ¼ cup of green onion chopped
• 1 Tbs light soy
• 1 Tbs fish sauce
• Add water if needed
• 2 Spring onions cut into 2 cm lengths
It’s really simple… Add all the ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer for 30min. If too spicy add water and simmer more. If you desire to thicken the sauce, add just a little corn starch.
Ingredients and Preparation for the Whole Fried Snapper
• Remove scales, insides, and cut off fins with a pair of kitchen scissors
• Score the sides of the fish 3-4 times to ensure good flavor and consistent cooking
• In a bag or bowl, mix whole wheat flour, salt, pepper and Asian Five Spice Powder (Five Spice Powder is strong, so don’t overdo it, but make sure there is enough to bold up the flavor a bit) – It can be purchased at Publix - http://www.scanavert.com/api/picture...150&height=150
• Coat fish with flour mixture and set aside for 10-15 min, I prefer to use a big ziplock bag for this if you have one big enough. We buy the jumbo ziplocks just for this…
• I prefer peanut oil for this, but vegetable oil will work – Some people cook the fish on each side for about 4 min, but I prefer to have enough oil to emerge whole fish and cook for about 5 min.
• Cut green onion and a thinly sliced lime for garnish
I really appreciate the time you put into posting your tried and true methods. I have used the chicken rigs with some success in the past, but haven't tried the double hooks and mostly worked with squid. Now I have some new tricks to try out. As for the double hooks, what size works best for you?
Plus you throw in a killer looking recipe!!!! Hands down great post