Flat-lining for Yellowtail Snapper

by earnlat

Yellowtail Snapper are some of the tastiest fish in the ocean. Catching these fish can prove to be really tricky, until you learn the technique of flat-lining.

My first fishing experience occurred in the Catskill Mountains, in upstate New York. My parents had designated the Catskills as our family summer retreat destination. My younger brother Greg and I, met a teen that taught us all about fishing. I was hooked (pun intended), the very first time a fish nearly pulled my small 11 year old frame into the Catskill Creek. We had live tiny bait fish, and spinner reels with 7' rods. The bait was hooked just below the top fin, so the bait-fish swam naturally. We had already spent a short while learning to cast the line out, and now we were ready for the action!! We put sinkers on the line to carry the bait down to the bottom. Also, we added red/white floaters on the line, to watch the movement of the bait. As I watched the floater moving around in the water, I became more and more excited. Then "BAM", a fish pulled on the line so hard, it nearly landed me!!

Catching "Tails" Gear.

Have the right fishing tackle?
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Check out these various techniques for snapper-fishing!

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Yellowtail Snappers Fruit of the Ocean

Flat-lining for Yellowtail Snapper

The first time I went flat-lining in Key West, Florida  I was a grown man,  and relived my first fishing experience. The incredible excitement you get with that initial hit, from a hard-pulling, powerful fighting, saltwater fish is really intense. The fishing technique, that I'm sharing with you, will work for most of the categories within (thirteen) the snapper species. However, it is ideal for yellowtail snapper.  In order to flat-line effectively one should use a spinning outfit, rather than a conventional rig. The fundamental differences between the two types of reels are visually obvious. The bait-casting reel requires your thumb in place to help create the action during casting,  and a spinner-reel only requires you to open the bail.  The bail on a spinner is the steel half-moon shaped piece, that is positioned at the top of the reel.  It opens (up) to release the line from the spool for casting,  and closes (down) to lock the reel and retrieve your line.

What you need to Flat-line For Yellowtail Snapper?

Although you may at times catch snappers fishing from the bridges and beaches in the keys, in order to flat-line, a boat is essential.  If you don't own a boat,  like me,  you can rent one at a really reasonable rate,  or you can find a charter boat company.  Another option is a "party boat", totally affordable and a great place to get expert advice.  Some folks may feel as though a drive to Key West from Miami, (4 hours) for a fishing trip, may be a bit daunting.  Well, in just over two hours, Marathon Key also has great fishing. There are outstanding fishing crews available on this lovely island.  During your drive down,  along the Overseas Highway, stop at one of the many bait stores, and pick-up some fresh (not frozen) bait. Have your cooler,  and purchase some ice to keep the bait cool.  Next, if you don't have a spinner rig, not to worry, all of the necessary tackle is available for purchase, rent, or as part of the overall fee.  Fishing in the Florida keys, is a huge component of the tourism industry. All of the fishing outfits, have every type of tackle needed to accommodate you. For those of you using a private boat, or renting one,  purchase plenty of chum, for your chum bags at the bait store,  and have some light to medium weight spinner rigs, for everyone that's fishing. Also, a fish-finder, and a net or gaff will be extremely helpful.  Penn, makes some excellent light weight spinner gear (combo rod and reel) at great prices.  Now we are ready to catch these incredibly tasty fish.Yellowtail and Mangrove Snappers

What you won't need to Flat-line for Yellowtail Snapper?

Your spinner reel will accommodate lots of light weight fishing line, so you won't need extra line. The line shouldn't be heavier than a 10lb test.  Unlike most types of fishing,  you will not use lead sinkers (weights) to carry your bait down to the bottom of the ocean. Use a size #2 or smaller hook.  Cut the fresh bait into small (inch long and wide) bite size chunks. Be sure to push your hook through the bait, with the pointed edge showing. The action is about to begin!!!  The chum will be flowing in the ocean's current stream, from an anchored position.  Open your bail and drop your line into the same flow, and leave the bail open.  Slowly, feed your line out into the current at a controlled rate. The current will always effect your line, in terms of speed and buoyancy. Ideally, a current moving at a medium rate will carry your bait just below the surface, where the "tails"  (yellowtail snapper) have come to feast.  Now you are flat-lining!!  Remember, you are on the ocean,  and there will be no warning as to when that line is going to begin and fly from your reel. When the line runs, close the bail, and jerk the rod upward to "set the hook"! Your bait and hook will be in the mouth of a hungry fish.  Chances are if it's not a yellowtail, than one of its cousins found the bait first.  They all taste great, so repeat the process,  the yellowtail will find your hook eventually. 

So When's The best time to Flat-line for Yellowtail Snapper?

Here in South Florida we can flat-line for snapper pretty much year round.  To be sure, there a times when the stars line-up, literally, and enhance the conditions for outstanding fishing.  For the last 13 years or so, I've driven to the keys, during the mangrove snapper spawn, in July. Typically following the full moon early in the month,  the snappers gather on the reef for spawning.  The event takes place for at least 30-40 days,  and the mangrove snapper's cousin, yellowtail snapper are always at the party.  Should you ever get the opportunity to become a part of this incredible fishing experience,  you won't be disappointed. You've gotta try this!!!

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Updated: 04/07/2013, earnlat
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Have any fish stories?

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dustytoes on 08/01/2012

There is nothing that compares to fishing in Florida. I never did your kind of fishing but we had a pontoon (party boat) and fished on the ICW all the time. Some days I'd barely get my hook into the water and I'd have something, and that would happen over and over. It's great! Your info here is very interesting.

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