The mangrove snapper is a fun and great to eat fish caught consistently in the Tampa Bay area with the right techniques and tactics.
As a Captain, I have had the privilege of fishing with many groups of people, and one of my favorite fish to put all clients on are the Mangrove Snapper. Mangrove snapper are fun to catch, as their fast mouths and quick bites require you to be at the ready at all times to set the hook. Mangrove snapper are also fun because when you catch one, there will be about 20 more ready to jump in your cooler. Because of all this I love to put people on these schools of fish whenever possible.
Fast Biting Fish
The Mangrove snapper is notorious for being hard to catch with their extremely quick strikes, and incredible eyesight.
Fun to Catch
Whether inshore or offshore, the right tackle make Mangrove snapper a fun time to catch for all leveled anglers.
How Do We Catch Mangrove Snapper?
As a captain for over 15 years in the Tampa Bay area, I have learned how to target these great eating and fun to catch fish. There are numerous ways to catch Mangrove Snapper in Tampa Bay, and I am going to tell you how to below!
Have Plenty of Chum
I always like to have plenty of chum to get the Snapper up off the bottom. This can be done by catching a bucket of chum after filling the livewell up with live baits. If bait is hard to catch you can buy a chum block at the bait shop. Another option is to use some frozen shrimp or any other type of frozen bait you may have. The idea is to bring the Snapper to you.
The Right Equipment
Another great tip is using a great sonar with side imaging to find the rock piles and ledge in the area you are fishing. This mixed with a GPS trolling motor will make life easier and put more fish in the boat. Since switching my electronics to include side imaging, I have increased my productivity of Mangrove and all bottom fish productivity.
Fishing The Tides
Fishing around the tides is another key to success with Mangrove Snapper. Look at a tide chart and try to plan your trips around the slower tides. If you are fishing around stronger tides then you want to try and plan the Snapper fishing around the start and stop if the areas you plan to fish have a lot of tide. During the stronger tides plan to fish areas that don’t have so much current. The idea is to use the chum to draw the fish off the bottom.
The Right Tackle
Use a Fluorocarbon lighter leader. I like to start with about 3 feet of 20lb leader but if the Snapper are not biting try to downsize to15 lb. I also try to use the Daiichi #1 circle hooks as well. Smaller tackles will result in more hookups.
Snapper fishing can be very challenging at times as they are very picky. Using lighter gear will make free spooling the baits easier and also a rod with a sensitive tip will ensure you feel the bite. I typically use my St Croix inshore Mojo rods medium action.
Where Do We Find the Mangrove Snapper?
This channel is deep, providing great ledges for the Mangroves to hide.
Position the boat on the point chumming down the bank of the channel.
Chumming down the channel will result in fish stacking up in this area.
Find Deeper Ledges
Mangrove snapper in the Tampa Bay area can be found stacked up and down the channel. Because the shipping channel in Tampa is dredged, it provides the perfect opportunity to target these deeper water fish up and down the ledges.
When you find these ledges, either with maps or on your sonar, like the one in the image, target the mangrove snapper by throwing a ton of chummed bait in the water. This will get the Mangrove snapper fired up and in an eating frenzy. Once you can see them, either physically if the water is clear, or on your sonar, you can cast a freeline bait hooked in the belly out into the channel. The belly hooked bait will swim down into the water column right into the mouth of a feeding mangrove snapper.
Remember to keep an eye out for ledges and fish shows on your sonar as you cruise up and down the Tampa Bay Channel.