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September 17, 2013

The Deep Gulf of Mexico Holds Tasty Rewards

Of reefs, rocks and wrecks - snapper and grouper galore.

Work Smarter

The beauty of most snapper and grouper is they can all be duped by artificials, especially in shallower water. Along the southwest coast of Florida, a great many grouper fall victim to diving plugs and bucktail jigs. There are even quite a few caught on fly. However, the single best way to catch snapper and grouper is by dropping a flutter jig into their home.

In the right hands, flutter jigs will outfish live bait for a couple of reasons: First, a streamlined flutter jig cuts through the current and sinks fast. Second, unless you break off a fish in a fight, you are not getting your hook picked clean, as happens with natural bait. This especially important in ­200-plus-feet of water, because it takes a great deal of time to reel 4 pounds of weight from the depths to rebait.

Tackle Up 

For a limit of snapper, both live and cut bait work well, fished on a bucktail jig. However, if you are after a big old sow snapper, stick with the bottom-drop rig with a ­medium-size bait. This eliminates the chance of a smaller fish ­grabbing the bait. The only problem is the amberjack, which like to swim with snapper, love to pound a live blue runner or pinfish. Honestly, it’s not a bad problem to have.

When you're fishing for smaller lane, vermilion and gray snapper, don’t discount a live shrimp. This delectable bait can be really tough to beat, ­provided you’re able to get it to the bottom without a trigger or angelfish stealing it. And don’t forget that a heavier weight can sometimes mean all the difference when seeking out the various snappers that prowl Gulf rigs and rocks