Outdoors | Anglers find hungry American red snapper as short season begins

June 8, 2014 

One week ago, the kickoff of the nine-day American red snapper was met with anxious anglers looking to bring a few of the tasty fish for the dinner table.

With the possibility of rough weather for the week ahead, anglers headed offshore June 1 in 3-foot seas across the Gulf Coast, anticipating even windier conditions in the following days.

I joined a crew of six anglers aboard the Legal Limit for opening day and can say it was a bit bumpy making a 40-mile run west of Bean Point. On the plus side, the fishing was good, and in two hours we had our red snapper limit and most of our red grouper limit.

By the looks of it, other anglers were also out for red snapper. Within a few miles of our fishing locations we could see dozens of boats, a rare sight these days offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. As I looked west, I dreamed of fishing even deeper for what would be even bigger fish.

One crew that fished deeper that day, bringing home an unbelievable catch, were anglers Nick Chicouris, Kyle Nifong, Ronnie Nifong and Peter Chicouris.

While fishing in 190 to 230 feet of water, the group caught a limit of 20- to 36-pound red snapper and 15- to 35-pound red grouper along with mahi mahi and some throwback gag grouper up to 53 pounds!

"We left at about 5 a.m.," said Nick Chicouris. After running for two hours, they immediately caught fish. "We limited out on red snapper in about 30 minutes and after another hour we limited on red grouper as well."

"At every spot any bait you could get down would get hit once it hit the bottom." A few big scamp grouper also hit the cooler, a nice throw-in for the anglers. "We anchored at every spot, fished with 12-ounce weights to get our baits down even quicker."

Reports later in the week as the weather improved to near perfect also were fantastic. Tuna, grouper, mahi mahi and big red snapper have been prevalent for those heading out. There is no doubt red snapper are hungry and eating offshore. With only two more days to get offshore for red snapper, I'm sure the Gulf will be busy once again.

If you're landlocked today and interested in seeing fish, I suggest heading to the Fire Charity Tournament weigh-in this afternoon at the Bradenton Yacht Club. With the spectacular weather, catches will no doubt be great, especially in the offshore division. Warsaw grouper, cubera snapper, swordfish and wahoo are a few of the possible catches to be weighed.

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