10 Mangrove Snapper Tips and Tricks

Sometimes the most targeted species on the pier, the Mangrove snapper offers excellent abundance and table fare for many anglers in the southeast. Even when abundant however, they may not be the easiest fish to catch. That is why we’ve developed this list of the Top 10 tips to remember when targeting this fish.

Mangrove snapper.

Ten things to remember when Mangrove snapper fishing:

1. Know where the fish are.

Mangrove snapper are structure-oriented fish. Find the structure, and chances are fish will be present. Fish near bridges, piers, mangroves and drop-offs on the sea floor.

Mangrove snapper caught in deep water.

2. Fish the changing tides.

As the tides ebb and flow, Mangrove snapper will orient themselves head-first into the current, waiting for a free meal to pass them by. Take advantage of this situation by fishing your bait or lure upstream of the fish, allowing it to drift to the fish as natural bait does.

3. Summertime is snapper season.

Mangrove snappers are already a schooling fish, but aggregate even further during their summer spawn. They also have an enormous appetite during this time of year.

4. Sardines always work.

Sardines, live or frozen, seem to work just about any time. Remember that as snapper grow, their diet switches to primarily fish, so using a sardine will get usually get bigger fish than shrimp will.

Sardine bait for catching mangrove snapper. A scaled sardine is a good bait for "Mangoes."

5. Use fresh shrimp.

Let’s face it, when you need it the most, sometimes the live bait just isn’t there. Stop by the bait shop on your way out and pick up some live shrimp – they’re cheap, almost always available, and work much better than frozen shrimp. If you just want to bring some frozen shrimp as backup, make sure it is the freshest quality possible.

Properly hooked shrimp for mangrove snapper. Fresh shrimp work better than frozen.

6. Switch it up with a crab.

That’s right, often overlooked as snapper bait, crabs (especially fiddler crabs) make up a fair portion of a Mangrove snapper’s diet. When the sardines and shrimp aren’t getting the bites, diversify with a crab.

Fiddler crabs. Fiddler crabs are easily caught with a board and a bucket.

7. Go nocturnal.

Mangrove snapper are nocturnal feeders, leaving their daytime hideouts to forage for fish and shrimp in the flats and near-shore reefs. Fish around the lighted docks and bridges where the shrimp congregate at night.

8. Use a sensitive, fast-action rod.

Feeling the bite is one of the most important skills to learn for catching snapper. You also want the fast action to set the hook faster than the fish can get away with your bait.

9. Keep your rod in hand.

Although the real bites will be bigger than the nibbles, they are often so fast that before you have time to pick up that rod leaning on the pier, it’s already too late.

10. Use clear, minimal tackle.

Snapper have excellent eyesight. Use fluorocarbon line if possible, but if nothing else at least as a 20-pound leader. If you’re using monofilament or especially if using braid, make sure the leader is long – up to four feet if they fish are being really skittish. You also want to minimize the size of sinker for the same reason.

Mangrove snapper fluorocarbon line. P-Line's new Shinsei is the clearest fluorocarbon.

Fortunately, these fish are quite easy to find, but it’s the catching part that makes it a challenge. Remembering these Top 10 tricks will almost guarantee you go home with a few snappers on your next outing.

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