Red snapper bite strong at Ship Shoal

The Bayou Vacherie area still has lots and lots of marsh, and the salty creatures that love to call it home.

Offshore captains haven’t been too happy with Mother Nature lately. Wild winds have kept many on the bank, and those who have tried it probably quickly regretted it. I had the opportunity to go out with Capt. Tommy Pellegrin just the other day, and we found the snapper and cobia willing despite the wind.

We first pulled up to Ship Shoal 209 about 50 miles south of Cocodrie about 8 a.m., and we were immediately neck deep in reds and mangroves. Pellegrin had pointed out a school of snapper scattered out about 50 to 60 feet deep, and he instructed us to count down our dead pogies to the proper depth.

Mustad’s Jeff Pierce went to the front of Pellegrin’s boat and began bouncing a new Shimano Butterfly Jig in front of the fish. It wasn’t long before he hooked up with a medium-sized snapper. He explained what he was doing as he reeled it in.

“You let this Butterfly Jig get down to the right depth then work it by basically holding the reel handle in one place while spinning the rod and reel around the handle. This makes the jig flare off to the side while still having that good up-and-down look.”

Pierce wasn’t the only one catching fish on the jig, though. Drew Davis with Mainstream Marketing was on board, and he was bouncing a Shimano Jig of his own. Davis was the first to catch a mangrove, which seemed to open the mangrove door.

Pellegrin was positioning his boat on the upcurrent side of all the rigs we fished, and he explained why this was so important.

“You see where all the hardtails are?” he asked. “They’re on the upcurrent side. Now what would happen if we tied off to the rig? We’d be strung out on the downcurrent side struggling to get bit.”

We didn’t struggle, though. I quickly got in on the action with a beautiful cobia that had me grunting and groaning like I was trying to tie my shoes after Thanksgiving dinner. More reds and mangroves kept coming over the gunwale, and we soon had only two red snapper slots open.

Pellegrin made a short move to another rig in the same block where he had caught a 22-pound red the day before. Pellegrin’s deckhand, Todd Schouest, was actually getting in a little fishing at the new rig since this wasn’t a paid charter, and he knew he had a good one when he first felt the pressure.

Schouest fought the beast for several minutes, and finally got it over the gunwale with an assist from Capt. Eric Pellegrin. After several pictures and back slaps, the fish was weighed at 18.8 pounds.

If there is a shortage of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, we sure didn’t see it on this particular day. We caught red snapper at every rig we stopped at along with a couple more cobia and several mangrove snapper.

“They say there aren’t any fish out there,” Pellegrin mused. “But just look at what we did today.”

Contact Capt. Tommy Pellegrin at 985-851-3304.

About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at