Florida Full Moon Snapper

My friend Harris and I had been talking about putting together a full moon snapper trip for a while. Friday was perfect. Full moon. No wind. Warm water. Good tides. So, we headed out around 7:30 p.m. Friday night.


Harris and I were joined by Tim from Tampa, Al and Todd. We geared up with plenty of tackle, bait and beer.


We made a couple of bait stops as the sun dropped below the horizon. Pinfish were scarce, but we managed to load a few decent ones in the livewell.


We cruised through Boca Grande Pass as the moon rose. There were loads of nighttime tarpon fisherman there. We had snapper on our minds, though.


At around midnight, we anchored in 100′ on the wreck of the Bayronto. There were a couple other boats nearby, and we could hear the occasional singing of drag as we baited up. With a frozen chum block, and around 40 pounds of mushy sardines, we set up a great chumline. The snapper moved in quickly, starting with a big mangrove snapper :


More soon succumbed to live pinfish and frozen sardines:


Then the Yellowtail Snapper showed up. We freelined whitebait and sardine chunks back into the chum line. The snapper were there, and it seemed that, for a while, we were hooked up on every cast. Some of the yellowtail were big flag, 4-6 pound fish.


Yellowtail are tons of fun on light tackle. Pretty soon, we were throwing back the smaller ones.


As the moon dropped toward the horizon, we brought out the heavy tackle, with the intention of nailing a few amberjack. They were definitely there- we saw a school of dozens of big ones checking out the boat at sunrise. But, we didn’t catch a one. Seems that the sharks and goliath grouper were just too aggressive, and grabbed every bait before the amberjack had a chance.

Our 40 lb test was no match for the big goliaths. We hooked a bunch, but it was about like hooking a school bus. We had better luck with the sharks. Harris dropped a pinfish shortly after sunrise, and was soon hooked up. He fought the fish about an hour before we could see what it was. Big shark!


We successfully leadered the big bull shark. It was estimated at 8′ and around 300 pounds. Nice job, Harris!


Once the sun had been up a while, the bite slowed, and it was time to head for home.


We ended up with dozens of yellowtail snapper; 6 big mangos; a banded rudderfish; and we released vermilion snapper and  red snapper.



It took three hours to fillet the catch. And, yes, fish fry at my place tonight!


One Response to “Florida Full Moon Snapper”

  1. Delcie Morosow Says:

    what pound test and how to set up tuna leaders, would be much appreciated!