Prince hopes Florida red snapper success equates to St. Lawrence smallmouth

Florida pro Cliff Prince is the kind of guy you’d love to have as your neighbor or fishing buddy. 

Always kind-spirited, helpful and quick with a laugh, he’s qualified for two Bassmaster Classics and cashed his share of Toyota Bonus Bucks and Leer Cover Cash checks. But, trips to the St. Lawrence have left him a pound shy and a dollar short too many times in recent Bassmaster Elite Series events.

However, if you’d have been fortunate enough to be invited saltwater fishing last month with the highly likeable St. Johns River pro from Palatka, you’d still be wearing a grin as wide as his Tundra, and your belly would be real full too.

“We absolutely train wrecked the red snapper last month out of Cedar Key in the Gulf, as well as near St. Augustine in the Atlantic closer to my home,” said Prince on the final official day of practice for the Elite Series at the St. Lawrence River. 

Stringent fisheries laws limit anglers to one legal red snapper per day on from the Atlantic and two from the Gulf, but Prince is never alone, and instead always with people he loves on the ocean, including his bride, Kelley, and their kids, as well as hometown buddies, and even other Elite Series pros who show up as guests.

Prince just hopes all the salty fun with red snapper last month equates to similar vertical fishing success on the St. Lawrence this time around.

Certainly, the presentation is comparable. Bait the hook and drop it straight down. Only in the ocean, Prince uses cut up shad for bait, where as for St. Lawrence smallies it’ll likely be a finesse-sized soft plastic. Plus the magical depth range for red snapper is from 80 to 150 feet, compared to 20 or 30 feet on the St. Lawrence. 

“So far, I haven’t found the smallmouth to be as grouped-up as they were last year,” says Prince. 

Winds are calmer on the final day of practice. So hopefully that will help him get dialed-in a bit better than the first two days of practice that were hampered by sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph.

If so, may the catching be as good this week for the former rodeo cowboy and current porta-potty rental business owner as it was last month when he was “train-wrecking” red snapper.