Full Moon Snapper Trip

What a weekend. It started Friday, when I hit the Merry Pier in St. Pete Beach between about 6-8 p.m. Rain was falling, and lightning cracked in the distance- but the snook were wide awake. I had at least a dozen hookups, with three landed (28, 30, and 32 inches). Bait was thick, and the snook and jacks were feeding heavily. Lots of fun!

Saturday, I returned to the Pier for some snapper action. Lots of 8-12 inch fish around… but I nailed a 17″ specimen about 4 feet off the end of the dock. And the snook were still going crazy! By the seawall, I was getting a hit on every shrimp I freelined for about half an hour. Landed a bunch, lost a bunch. Snook are very hard on terminal tackle…

Mid-afternoon, I spoke to Cap’t. Dick, and we decided that a full moon snapper trip made perfect sense. We booked the Getaway, with Cap’t Andy at the helm. We both called around, but were unable to get any more fisherman on the boat (you know who you are!). So we headed west at around 7 p.m., with 4 gallons of bait aboard.

We anchored on the Pipeline at around 80 feet, amidst a few other boats, and set up a chumline. I had a bite immediately- but, it was a lowly “mother-in-law fish”. We started pulling up grunts, which were immediately returned to the sea. Then, Cap’t. Dick hooked up to something with a little more fight in it. We were al astonished as he hauled up a live octopus from the depths. It proceded to crawl about the cabin, suctioning itself to various object, until it was gaffed and depositied in the bait cooler (they make great grouper bait).

Soon, we were surrounded by thousands of squid, which would occassionally jet by the transom- and into te boat. Pretty freaky. Next up were boita, with a few nice size fish causing the drags to sing. After that, a few wayward kingfish showed up, and we deposited two in the cooler. Finally, the snapper bite started as the full moon rose.

Over the next few hours, we landed some very fat mangroves- nice fish, running from a few pounds up to around 10. A solitary yellowtail joined the mix (who ever heard of catching a single yellowtail-  they usually hang in very large schools). A big lane snapper added to the variety. Keeping with the solitary theme, one (1!) chicken dolphin showed up in the chum slick. Thought we saw some cobia join the fray, but they turned out to be big remoras. Oh well.

We got back on the dock just before 4 a.m., and, to my surprise, the Pier was buzzing. There was bait everywhere, and snook hitting on the surface, as about a dozen fisherman milled about. Who knew the Merry Pier was busier at 4 a.m. than 4 p.m.?

So, after 17 hours of fishing Saturday, I decided to take a break on Sunday. We threw a small party Sunday eevning, with a new snapper recipe compliments of Cap’t Dick (Place snapper fillets on oiled foil, brush with some more olive oil, sprinkle lightly with Evergaldes seasoning and celery salt, and cover completely with think slices of fresh lemon. I couldn’t resist topping with a little Old Bay. Seal the foil, pop in a hot oven for about 20 minutes, and enjoy! We also blackened some fillets, and these made a nice counterpoint to the baked fish. Yum!

6 Responses to “Full Moon Snapper Trip”

  1. JoeFab Says:

    After reading this, I am hitting that Pier next Monday! Sounds much better than going out on a boat to catch a bunch of grunts. Do you happen to know what the tides look like next Monday, July 9th?

  2. JoeFab Says:

    Las but not least, I am thinking of bringing down my own gear. I was looking at my 6ft medium action road with 15lb test. Will that work for the pier or is it to heavy or light? Thanks!

  3. Steve Says:


    Check out the tides at http://www.mobilegeographics.com:81/calendar/month/4583.html

    Looks like a decent high tide around 8 a.m., with a 2 foot drop over the next 8 hours. Should make for decent fishing, although not as good as the full moon tides. I’ll be working during the day, but I might head down that way in the evening.

    The 15lb tackle will be fine, and maybe a little heavy for snapper. And, it’ll be great for hooking snook… but, not so great for landing them. Some of the more serious people targeting snook are geared up with 40-50lb PowerPro. Me, I generally use 12lb mono on one rod, 20lb Powerpro on another, and switch, depending on what’s biting. I lose a lot of snook, but, hey- that’s the game.

    ‘Course, I’ve usually got a heavy rod in the car… just in case.

  4. JoeFab Says:

    I just keep peppering you with questions:

    Does the bait shop rent rods with different levels of tackle? It may make sense to use a couple of cheap rentals than bring down multiple rods…

  5. Steve Says:

    The bait shop on the Merry Pier does have equipment for rent- I’ve never really taken a good look at it, so I can’t vouch for the quality. I’d say… bring the best rod/reel you have (space permitting), and you can always rent if necessary (or, borrow one of mine if I’m on the Pier!).

  6. Home Repair Wilmington NC Says:

    Try this one out “Mediterranean Grouper”…Always rinse under cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel. Brush fillets with olive oil first, then salt, pepper and oregano lightly over the top of each fillet. Put on a piece of aluminum foil skin side down and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes depending on the thickness of each fillet. When the fish is done the skin will stay stuck to the foil and the meat will slide off. While the fish was cooking you were also boiling some spinach or other favorite greens. When the greens are done, “about 25 minutes” take them out of the boiling water. Strain thoroughly by pushing all of the water out of them using the proper kitchen utensil, be careful they are very hot. Pour olive oil over the greens. Salt, pepper and squeeze fresh lemon over the top and serve in a small salad bowl. Serve this meal with good crunchy French, Greek or Italian bread.