Whether it’s your first time casting a line or you’re already an old pro, red snapper are among anglers’ favorites. These vibrant fish are beautiful to behold and fun to catch, and they make for a delicious dinner. Red snapper can grow quite large, from 5 to 20 pounds or more, so get ready for an adventure! Here are a few tips to help you get started.   



The right tools make the difference between a successful catch and coming home empty-handed. Rod and reel: Choose a medium to heavy action rod with a robust reel. Spinning reels are easy to use and great for beginners! Fishing line: Use a braided line with a high breaking strength (20- to 50-pound). Snapper are strong! Hooks: Try a circle hook. They increase your chances of hooking the fish securely and are more sustainable. Weights and leaders: Snapper are bottom-feeders. Use a weight to keep your bait near the seabed. Also, a 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader helps keep the fish from being spooked.  



Snapper are not picky eaters and can be lured in a number of ways. Try small fish like pinfish, mullet or menhaden as live bait. For cut bait, use freshly cut pieces of squid, shrimp or fish. Lastly, artificial lures, including jigs and soft plastic lures, can also be effective. 



Red snapper tend to hang around reefs, wrecks and rocky outcrops. To find these hotspots, consider fishing charters, which can be especially helpful to newcomers to the sport. Try a fish finder to locate underwater structures and schools of fish. And don’t forget to seek the locals’ advice! 



Part of the fun of snapper fishing is that there are so many ways to do it. Try anchoring your boat near a reef or structure to keep your bait in the ideal location. Drop your bait to the bottom and reel up slightly to avoid snags. Drift fishing involves letting your boat drift with the current, covering more ground to locate fish. For chumming, drop bits of bait into the water to attract red snapper, drawing them toward your hook. 



Summer red snapper season in Panama City Beach is a whopping 61 days long this year, from June 1-July 31, 2024. Plus, there is also the fall season, which runs every Friday through Sunday, August through October. The time of day matters, too: Early morning and late afternoon are usually the best times, as this is when red snapper are most active.  



The secret to all fishing is patience – and attentiveness. Watch your line closely for any signs of a bite. Red snapper are strong fighters, so be ready for an exciting battle! 


Catching red snapper is a fun, exciting and rewarding experience. Follow these tips and you’ll be ready to land these magnificent fish. Stay patient, enjoy the turquoise waters of the Gulf and – most importantly – enjoy the adventure. Happy fishing!