Gulf red snapper have rebounded over the last few years due to bag and size limits, but they have yet to reach their strength in numbers of yesteryear due to the tremendous fishing pressure commercially. While they may be found inshore as young fish, adult red snapper are located primarily near structure in deeper water. They feed on crab, squid, shrimp and small fish, which they find near artificial reefs, oil rigs and other underwater structures.
These reds are just one of over 100 described snapper species. They are predominantly a schooling fish, though the bigger fish don’t mind roaming alone. One thing is for sure: These snapper are extremely popular among recreational fishermen and a prized offering at restaurants and seafood markets.
Big snapper act differently than small snapper. They’re not as quick, but they are wise, which is how they got big in the first place.
The best tip is to use chum to get them fired up. Sometimes you can bring snapper to the surface by throwing out fish pieces or hanging a chum bag overboard. Since snapper act a lot like sharks, this technique really works, trust me. Snapper will hit anything from a bonito strip to squid to white bait, as well as shrimp, but live baits work best for the larger snapper. I prefer live cigar minnows.