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Night Snapper Fishing in South Florida
By Allen Walburn

My most favorite fishing charter is light tackle angling for mangrove snapper especially at night. In Naples Florida, where I operate, our primary snapper is mangrove but we also catch yellowtail, mutton and red snapper.

To catch snapper consistently at night requires knowledge of and adherence to basic fundamentals. If the guidelines listed below are followed you will be successful and find the same enjoyment that hundreds of my customers have had over the years.

The first order of business is to locate a spot where snapper hangout in good numbers. Most often this will be a ledge, submerged shipwreck, underwater spring or even an area where barrel sponges are closely grouped.

Once you have determined where you are going to fish it is critical to anchor the boat in the proper location. To make certain the boat is properly located I set a marker buoy near where I want my boat to be positioned, after we have dropped the anchor. A cyalume stick or small light attached to the buoy makes it much easier to properly position the boat.

To get your boat properly situated, drop your anchor in such manner as to allow the boat to drift back towards the structure but not over or beyond it. Ideally you would be a few feet above tide from the spot with the ocean current moving from your stern directly toward the spot. This is extremely important.

After positioning your boat, you should illuminate the water off the stern with deck lights or other auxiliary lighting. After getting the area lit you should begin chumming, either by cutting up handfuls of bait and tossing them into the water or placing ground up fish in a chum bag hung from the stern. Your chum line should travel in the current over your submerged structure.

Now that all the work is done the fun begins. I like to take a 7-foot casting rod, Newell 2/0 revolving spool reel with 20-pound line with little or no weight and a 3/0 long shank hook. Disengage the reel and strip the line out and let it flow out behind the boat. Keep stripping the line out until you the bait is about 150 feet behind the boat and at that time, if you have not gotten a bite retrieve your it and start again. I suggest you vary the weight from nothing and go up so that the bait sinks to where the fish are hanging. Most often they will eventually come up to the surface but adding weight gets the bait closer to the fish when you first start. Experiment with weights and depths until you locate the school of fish.

If you follow these techniques and go to a spot that holds fish I guarantee you will have success more times than not. Be patient but determined and you will be rewarded.

Allen Walburn has been a U.S. Coast Guard licensed master of power vessels up to 100 tons for 30 years. He has operated A&B Charters from the Naples City Dock since 1977. Recently he has become managing partner for Alaska's Kodiak Island Resort.

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