Drift-line for more and bigger snapper

If you learn to fish the drift-line technique of presenting a bait slowly and gently to red snapper, you can catch more of them on every trip, Orange Beach’s Jack Wilhite said.

But when drift-lining cigar minnows off the stern of the boat, the current can cause baits not to get down to the depth where the snapper are feeding.

So, Wilhite adds a small slip sinker to the line to get the bait down and uses spinning tackle to cast the bait in front of the boat.

Jones say that, if the current is moving at 1 knot, you’ll have to add a 1/2-ounce sinker. With no current, you won’t have to add any weight to the line. But generally he uses a 1/4-ounce, egg-shaped slip sinker ahead of the bait and 30-pound-test monofilament line that matches the color of water.

Remember, Wilhite said, fish can see clear line in clear water, and you might get more strikes using green-colored line. Or, if the water has a little stain to it, use a gray-colored line.

This captain fishes No. 5/0 bronze-finished Eagle Claw hooks because silver versions attract more king mackerel that cut the lines.

When the bait hits the water

To drift-line, cast upcurrent of the boat, making about a 40-foot cast. Then, when the bait enters the water, the current will pick it up and wash it back toward the boat.

As the bait enters the water, the lead begins to fall away from the hook and the bait. Because the lead is heavier than the cigar minnow, it will slide down the line and away from the bait.

By the time the bait floats 30 to 40 feet from the bottom, the lead might have fallen 5 to 10 feet below the bait.

When the line begins to come back to the boat, free-line more monofilament by simply pulling the line out and allowing the current to catch the line. Then the lead can continue to fall even after your line has passed the boat.

When a snapper spots the cigar minnow moving down toward the bottom, it sees a free-floating bait that presents an easy meal.

And then it’s fish on.

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