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John's Journal... Entry 190, Day 1


Louisiana's Snapper

EDITOR'S NOTE: Richard Harris, from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, fishes on the Southern Kingfishing Association (SKA) circuit. He runs an R & R Express 32 Donzi ZF that's designed to take rough water at high speeds. He cruises at 42 to 45 miles per hour or runs wide open at 60 miles per hour with His twin Mercury 225 Opti-Max engines. Harris's boat has two speeds -- dead stop and wide-open. I fished with Harris and had a terrific time.

Question: Richard, where did we fish for snapper yesterday?
Harris: After the recent tropical depression, the water close in was somewhat dirty. So, we ran approximately 50 miles offshore to some rigs between the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana. The water depth was about 80 feet. We chummed the snapper up with pogies and free-lined on top and fished the bottom.

Question: Take us down the fishing line. How do you rig to fish for snapper?
Harris: On the heavier poles, free lining, we usually use 60- to 80-pound-test line with a swivel. I run Momois Hi-Catch or the Diamond series on most of my poles. I use about an 80-pound swivel. If we're running Carolina rigs, we use anywhere from a 1/2- to 1-ounce-weight lead, depending on current and the water depth. Then I tie on a leader 2- to 3-feet long of 60- to 100-pound-test line. I use a No. 4/0 hook with whole and half pogies as bait.

I run the hook through the pogie's eyes first. I pull the hook all the way through the body, and then I put the hook through the top of the back. This way, I have a double hook on the pogie. Then if I pull one time and miss the fish, by double hooking, my bait will more likely stay on if I miss the fish.

Question: How do you catch a snapper?
Harris: If I fish with a whole pogie, I have to let the fish hit the pogie several times. You'll feel several taps or bumps. Then the fish will hit a little harder. Set the hook. Once you set the hook, keep steady pressure, and reel as hard as you can. Try to keep the snapper out of the structure or a rig. With smaller fish, you usually will do o.k. The bigger snapper generally will head straight for the bottom, so you'll have to pull hard to turn the snapper's head.

Question: What is the limit on snapper here?
Harris: We have a 16-inch total length, five per person. On a good day, you'll probably need only a couple of hours to get your limit. The average weight yesterday when we fished was 4- to 8-pound snapper. However, snapper do go close to 30-pounds plus.

Question: What's the best day of snapper fishing you've ever had?
Harris: We were fishing with a downrigger using live croakers. Within 35 minutes, we had caught one just over 30 pounds and two weighing just under 30 pounds.

To learn more about fishing off Mississippi's Gulf Coast, call (800) WARMEST, or visit www.visitmississippi.org.




Check back each day this week for more about SNAPPER, GROUPER, AMBERJACK AND KINGFISH OFF LOUISIANA'S GULF COAST ...

Day 1 - Louisiana's Snapper
Day 2 - Targeting Grouper
Day 3 - Fishing For Kings
Day 4 - Fishing Rigs For Amberjack
Day 5 - Catching Big Louisiana Snapper

John's Journal