Guide: Captain Bruce Shuler
Homeport: Port Mansfield, Texas
Experience: Owner of Get-A-Way Adventures Lodge
Tactic: When red snapper are in the chum slick and feeding aggressively, Shuler busts out the medium-weight spinning rods and rigs a worm hook with a twitch bait. “People laugh at us,” he says, “but it works.” Shuler prefers a five- to seven-inch, scent-impregnated Dinger bait by Yum threaded on a 4/0 worm hook and tied to 18 inches of 30-pound shock leader.
Guide: Captain Jimmy “Woo Woo” Harker
Homeport: Morehead City, North Carolina
Experience: 30 years at the helm of the headboat Carolina Princess
Tactic: “Although we’ve caught many red snapper on cut bait, the best bait is a whole, fresh cigar minnow or pinfish,” Harker says. He suggests anglers increase the bottom leader on their two-hook rigs to longer than three feet or use a Carolina rig with an eight-ounce egg sinker to pull big snapper from the reef.
Guide: Captain Tommy Pellegrin
Homeport: Cocodrie, Louisiana
Experience: Captain of High Life and Reel Life.
Tactic: “Lots of guys will go to the bottom and crank up,” Pellegrin says. “But that only gives the critters more time to steal bait.” Instead, he suggests the angler figure out how fast line leaves the reel, then count down to the depth where he is marking fish on the sonar. Pellegrin looks for the biggest fish to hang in small groups, suspended in the water column up to 100 yards from the oil rigs he fishes.
– Ric Burnley