• More power for the hook set

Many fishermen hold their rod tips parallel to the water or slightly higher when they're fishing for snapper. But Orange Beach's Art Jones said that pointing the rod tip at the water allows you to bring the rod straight up over your head when you feel a bite.

He believes this gives anglers have twice the hook-setting power, especially when fishing in deep water.

 

• Get the lead out

To catch a really-big snapper, you've got to get the bait away from the lead, Jones said.

"That's why I use a slip sinker up my line, a barrel swivel on the end of the line and 4 to 5 feet of leader coming off the bottom eye of the barrel swivel," Jones said. "I'll tie my hook, put my bait on the end of the leader and cast the bait out."

As the lead falls to the bottom, it will fall away from the bait.

"Once the lead hits the bottom, the bait often will be from 4 to 12 feet up in the water away from the lead," Jones explained. "Then the bigger snapper won't be spooked by the lead, and will come in and take the bait."

 

• Don't get lazy — re-bait

Because many fishermen get tired of reeling their lines up and down every time they get bites, they might not check their baits often.

Jones said that's a mistake, since that means they might be leaving their hooks in the water with no baits on them. He said that when the fish stop biting, your bait is probably gone.

Instead, reel up as quickly as possible and re-bait after missing a fish.

But, Jones said, time is of the essence because the more time that elapses between when a fish steals your bait and when re-bait and lower your line back down, the fewer fish you'll catch.

Also, snapper seem to prefer bigger, tougher cut baits rather than softer, smaller offerings, Jones said. And the oil from the cut baits gives off a scent that attracts fish.

"If snapper are feeding aggressively, you might catch all you want with half a cigar minnow," he said. "I cut the cigar minnow in half to allow the oil from the minnow to give off a scent that attracts the snapper.

"But if the snapper are stealing your baits, you're probably fishing for really big snapper. Then you need to use a mackerel fillet, which is tough."

Jones said to hook the fillet three or four times to ºthread it onto the hook.