John's Journal...

Breakdown to Success

Not Just Big Snapper Wins

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Brian Bracknell of Mobile, Alabama, has fished out of Orange Beach for most of his life. Two years ago, Bracknell got a new boat, the “Crowd Pleezer,” and decided to make charter fishing his primary business. One of Bracknell’s unique characteristics is that he’s learned how to snatch victory out of defeat. In the 2006 Red Snapper World Championship, Bracknell’s never-say-die attitude earned him over $5,000 and enabled one of his anglers to catch the red snapper of a lifetime.

“What’s important to remember about the Red Snapper World Championship is that the red snapper isn’t the only fish that pays money in the tournament,” Bracknell emphasizes. “You can win money with triggerfish, beeliners (vermilion snapper), amberjack and grouper. Once we find a reef that’s holding fish other than snapper, I make a note in my log book of what type of fish that reef’s holding. Then after we catch our snapper, we can go toClick to enlarge the reef and put those additional fish in our cooler to increase our odds of winning more money. We always try to catch a variety of fish, including triggerfish, beeliners and usually a few grouper and scamp. Our big beeliners will weigh about 4- or 5-pounds each. These are good eating-size fish, and they’re fun to catch. When we’re fishing for big snapper however, I always like to use live bait. My favorite live bait is croakers or pinfish. But these baits are hard to come by. Usually, we have to catch these baits, or we can buy them from bait men. The state of Alabama has a newly-adopted law that allows a live-bait boat to have a permanent place of business like a barge anchored-up at a certain area. The live-bait fishermen go out and catch the live bait and bring it back to the barge. The charter boats can get their bait from the bait man before they go out to fish. The bait boat will usually have pogeys, croakers, live shrimp and other baitfish. On an average charter, buying live bait will usually cost the captain $20 or $30.Click to enlarge

“At the 2006 Red Snapper World Championship, I knew I was going to have to be lucky to catch another money-winning red snapper. Remember, here at Orange Beach, you’ve got some of the best snapper fisherman in the world. These captains fish all day and every day during the season. They build reefs and they know snapper, snapper fishing and snapper fishermen. Anytime a captain and his boat places in the top 20 of this tournament, he should feel really good about himself because he’s competing against the best of the best. I’ve often been asked, ‘How long do you think you’ll be able to catch those big red snapper like fishermen have for the past 3 years of the Red Snapper World Championship?’ I think we can continue to catch big snapper indefinitely because all the entry fees go back to the fishery in the form of building reefs andClick to enlarge lobbying for favorable snapper-fishing legislation. Every year the tournament monies build 200 more reefs, and the captains still are building some for themselves. As long as we provide more habitat for the snapper every year than they’ve had the year before, I don’t see any reason why we can’t continue to catch the big snapper.”

To fish with Captain Brian Bracknell, you can contact him at (251) 471-2868, or (251) 379-8099. You also can write him at Captain Brian Bracknell, 2405 South Vaughan Drive, Mobile, Alabama 36605, email him at or visit his website, To learn more about the Red Snapper World Championship, check out For more information on the Orange Beach area, go to or call the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at (800) 745-7263.

Tomorrow: Catching Amberjack with Little Brother

Check back each day this week for msore about "Breakdown to Success"

Day 1: The Big Day
Day 2: Six Secrets to Catching Big Red Snapper
Day 3: How to Hit the Home Run on a Big Red Snapper
Day 4: Not Just Big Snapper Wins
Day 5: Catching Amberjack with Little Brother


Entry 367, Day 4