Editor’s Note: Brian Lynch is the captain of the “Island Girl” charter boat out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Question: Brian, what will snapper season be like this year?
Lynch: We have plenty of snapper on Alabama’s Gulf Coast for people to catch. They’re everywhere.

Question: What techniques will you use to catch big red snapper and win the 2008 Red Snapper World Championship (RSWC), which will be held this year from June 1 to August 4?
Lynch: I’ll start fishing with bigger baits than normal. When fishing for bigger snapper, I’ll be fishing much higher in the water. Too, I look for bigger, older reefs than I’ll normally fish. I generally find big snapper on natural bottom, but over the years, I’ve caught more really-big snapper on very-old artificial reefs. In the past, when old car bodies still have been in the Gulf’s waters, there may have been a handful of snapper holding on those old car bodies. You may have pulled up on a spot like that and only gotten one bite, but it will have been from a really-big snapper. Today, there are so many snapper on our reefs leaving a bait down long enough for a big snapper to take it before the little snapper eat it is tough.


Question: You mentioned that you use big baits for red snapper. How big are the baits you use?
Lynch: For live bait, I like hardtails (blue runners) and big threadfin herring. For dead baits, I’ll either use whole Boston mackerel, northern mackerel or the belly strip of a king mackerel. I’ve caught big snapper on whole Spanish mackerel and small dolphin (mahi mahi). Really, there’s not much that snapper won’t eat.

Question: You also have said to catch big snapper, you fish higher in the water. What does higher in the water mean?
Lynch: When marking an artificial reef on your depth finder, you’ll see fish holding 30 feet up off the reef. Many times the bigger snapper will be on the outside of those highest fish in the water. I can catch big snapper on the bottom, but you have to contend with all the other fish on the bottom that also can eat your bait. I’ve caught big snapper 30 feet below the bottom of the boat at a bottom of 200 feet. How active the snapper are when you’re fishing for them determines how far off the bottom the big snapper will move up to take the bait. Normally, you’ll catch bigger snapper higher in the water column than you will smaller snapper.

Question: How does your tackle change when you’re fishing for big snapper?
Lynch: I prefer to use a circle hook when fishing for big snapper because it jaw-hooks the snapper. Too, you usually can put more pressure on the line to pull the snapper up with a circle hook than you can with a straight hook. The circle hook goes to the corner of the snapper’s mouth, which is a tougher part of the snapper’s mouth than the rest of the places where you can hook a snapper. I’ll also use a longer leader and the smallest sinker I can when fishing for bigger snapper. If you’re fishing with big live bait, you have to use bigger leads than if you’re fishing with big dead bait, because live bait will try and swim up on you. My rule of thumb is the less terminal tackle you use, the better your odds are for catching a big snapper. When I’m fishing for big snapper, I’ll use about 6 to 8 feet of leader coming off a barrel swivel. Above the barrel swivel, I’ll put 6 to 12 ounces of lead, depending on the tide and the current. I’ve even used 16 to 20 ounces of lead when fishing in deeper water. If you’re fishing in 120 feet of water or less in the water, say, about 30-feet below the bottom of the boat, you can use a lighter lead. I normally fish with 60-pound-test monofilament leader and either 50- to 80-pound-test main line.


Question: How will you fish the 2008 RSWC?
Lynch: I fish a little differently during the RSWC than everyone else. I normally go offshore and fish for other species, like amberjack and grouper, before I target snapper. Many times I’ll catch a big snapper when I’m offshore targeting those amberjack or grouper. Then, on my way back inshore, I’ll stop off at one or two spots that I’ve identified that generally produce big snapper. To keep from having so many throw-back snapper, I usually snapper fish during the last part of my trip.

Question: When you say you run offshore, how far from Perdido Pass do you run?
Lynch: If I go to the east, it’s usually 30 miles. If I go south, I’ll run 40 to 50 miles. I’ll be fishing over some type of natural bottom or rocks.

Question: What tackle do you use when fishing for beeliners and triggerfish?
Lynch: I’ll catch quite a few of these fish offshore. There are so many snapper close to shore that the vermilion snapper seem to be eating the smaller beeliners and running the larger beeliners off the wrecks. So, I’m catching some of my best beeliners offshore. Too, the snapper seem to have run the triggerfish away from the inshore wrecks or have eaten the small triggerfish because I locate some of my best triggerfish offshore.

Question: How big are the beeliners you catch offshore?
Lynch: I caught five or six beeliners on my last trip that weighed between 5- and 6-pounds each.

Question: How do you find and catch triggerfish?
Lynch: I use small baits and small hooks to catch triggerfish because they have small mouths. If I can catch a fresh bonito, I’ll cut it into small chunks and use it for bait. Or, if I’ve caught an amberjack the day before, I’ll use the belly of the amberjack for bait. If there’s triggerfish holding on an artificial or a natural reef, they’ll generally move up higher in the water than the other fish, once you drop your baits down for snapper. To find triggerfish, watch your fishermen. When they drop their baits down to the bottom and they don’t get any bites, but the bait on their lines has disappeared, usually triggerfish are under the boat. The triggerfish are so fast and aggressive that they can eat the baits off the fishermen’s hooks while the baits are falling to the bottom. So, to catch triggerfish, we stop our baits higher in the water and let them down slower. People who aren’t experienced at fishing for triggerfish often will have a hard time catching triggerfish because the triggerfish are so quick at stealing bait. I expect a great fishing season this summer. There’s plenty of fish on the reefs, wrecks and offshore, and we should have one of the best fishing seasons this year on the Gulf Coast.

To fish with Captain Brian Lynch on the “Island Girl”, call him at (251) 747-0217, call Zeke’s charter office at (800) 793-4044, visit www.zekeslanding.com, or email Lynch at blynch@gulftel.com.