Mangrove snapper fishing provides great action for anglers of all ages.
When you target snapper, the most popular bait is live shrimp on a small circle hook. Small minnows work, too, but snapper seem to prefer shrimp.
The circle hooks work well because a lot of the mangrove snapper are undersized and must be released. A circle hook enhances the odds for a lipped hook fish.
Pierce Nelson shows off a New Year’s Eve catch. Youngsters love catching the feisty and tasty mangrove snapper.
Snapper have a small mouth. In order for them to grab the bait it has to be small enough for them to eat, otherwise you will quickly learn why snapper are one of the best bait-stealing fish out there. The objective is to get the snapper to take your bait in one gulp, otherwise they will pick at your bait and you soon will have a bare hook while fishing on credit.
Snapper tend to congregate near any type of structure such as docks, piers, rock piles and bridges.
A chum bag hung over the boat works well to attract the snapper to feed. Most bait-and-tackle stores sell chum blocks.
Once you drop your chum bag it will not be long before you see the snapper aggressively coming to the surface after the bait.
If the tide flow is ripping, a split-shot weight will help, otherwise, free-lining bait works best in a slow tide.
Snapper are quick. You have to follow your line as it is going down and try to keep it line tight so you feel the initial bite. Do not let your line go slack. If you do the snapper usually has already taken your bait.
The Boca Grande Fishing Pier, as well as most every dock on the island, is a great place to target these tasty fish. Snapper are a great pan fish as well. They must be a minimum of 10 inches long to keep. You can easily catch your limit if you are patient.
Often a mangrove snapper is one of the first fish youngsters will remember catching on Boca Grande. Snapper is a great choice to keep the kids' poles bent cast after cast. But snapper can be challenging to catch even for the experienced angler. Make sure to buy plenty of live shrimp because you will go though several dozen in a short period of time.
It can be frustrating to keep having your bait taken, but that is all part of snapper fishing. The more practice you get the quicker you will master the technique.
You do not have to use the whole shrimp; a snippet works just as well as a whole shrimp in many cases. It also makes bait stretch longer.
Usually when snapper fishing you will also catch some small grouper, snook, ladyfish and flounder as well trout and redfish. Don't be surprised when reeling up a small snapper to see a huge snook swallow your pan fish. This is not uncommon.
This time of the year it is best to get out fishing early in the mornings or late afternoons. Just be careful of late-afternoon rainstorms.