Natural baits are by far the most effective method of catching this shy, but otherwise thieving fish.
The Best Baits for Mangrove Snapper
Pompano eat a diet comprised of mainly small crabs, shrimp, clams, and sometimes small fishes. While some of those, such as the small crabs called sand fleas, are easily attainable right on the beaches, others are harder to find, but can be purchased either live or frozen from most bait shops. It really seems that some baits work better than others depending on the day, so don’t hesitate to bring a variety of options.
Probably the top Mangrove snapper bait, sardines are very shiny and active – irresistible to the hungry snapper. There are two species in the southeast, the Spanish and Scaled sardines, and work almost as well frozen as they do live.
Although not as shiny as a sardine, grunts are also irresistible to a snapper because they make noise – and lots of it when on a hook. Grunts are also hardier than a sardine, and will last a lot longer on a hook.
Finger mullet – fish of about three to four inches – are also an excellent fish, as they are shinier than grunts, and just as hardy as the grunts.
Shrimp make up the majority of a juvenile Mangrove snapper’s diet, and still a fairly large portion of an adult snapper’s. If using shrimp, make sure it is either live or very freshly frozen, or the snapper will turn their noses, leaving all of the smaller grunts picking at your bait.
Often overlooked as bait for snapper, crabs are actually a modest component of mangrove snapper diet. Small crabs (either blue or fiddler) are excellent bait for snapper, especially when they don’t seem to be interested in any other bait.
Other Baits that Will Catch Mangrove Snapper
Essentially any fish that is white and shiny, live or dead can work well for Mangrove snapper, especially when in a frenzy. In other words, small mojarras or other inshore species will work great whole, but don’t overlook a piece of cut ladyfish.