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Mangrove (Grey) Snapper Fishing Tips

Tips for Catching Grey or Mangrove Snapper

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Man holding fresh caught mangrove snapper
Eric Kulin/Design Pics/Getty Images
Here are some mangrove snapper fishing tips. Mangrove snapper are found from New England down throughout the Caribbean to South America. They are a favorite among anglers for their fighting ability and for their excellent meat. They can be found from inshore estuaries to deep water reefs, and fishing for them will vary accordingly.

Inshore Tips

Mangrove snapper are schooling fish. They tend to stay grouped and move as a unit when they decide to move. You seldom find a lone mangrove snapper, so if you catch one, there are surely more to be had.

    Tackle

  • Medium light spinning tackle
  • 10 to 15 pound monofilament line
  • Fluorocarbon leader

    Some prefer no leader at all so as not to spook the fish. Any part of the terminal tackle that can be seen will lessen your chances of a strike. These are smart fish.

  • 5/0 standard hook or 7/0 circle hook
  • Weights as necessary

    Use only enough weight to get your bait to the fish. Free line your bait with no weight if you can.

    Bait

  • Live bait – shrimp, pinfish, mud minnows, small crabs

    Live bait needs to be alive. A smaller hook that is harder to see will get you more strikes. Snapper are wary, and big hooks tend to make them shy.

  • Dead bait – cut mullet, other cut fresh fish

    These fish are particular. The cut bait needs to be fresh and clean. Sloppy baits will not be eaten. Make sure the cuts are clean and straight, forming a nice chunk of bait.

  • Artificial bait – red and white bucktail jig, red and white nylon jig

    Tip these jigs with a fresh cut strip of mullet or other fish. The strip needs to be no longer than the jig. Work the jig in an up and down motion as you retrieve it back to the boat or shore.

    Fishing Locations

  • Mangrove lined banks

    This could be around an island, a shoreline, or a canal. The roots of the mangrove trees are a perfect estuary for these snapper. They are so common there that the ‘grey’ name is usually changed to ‘mangrove’. Look to cast your bait as close to the mangroves as possible. Look for tidal current cuts around the mangroves where the water will be deeper.

  • Rock Jetties

    Any rocky structure, like a jetty, holds baitfish and small crustaceans. Snapper will school on these structures. Once again you need to fish close to the structure.

  • Docks and Pilings

    Snapper will also congregate around pilings and docks, that includes bridge pilings. Barnacles and other growth attract baitfish and small crustaceans, and they in turn attract the snapper.

  • Oyster Bars

    In small estuary creeks where deep holes occur close to oyster bars, snapper will be found.

These snapper , like all of them identify with structure. That structure attracts marine growth which in turn attracts the baitfish and shellfish that snapper feed upon.

Offshore Tips

There is no casting for mangroves offshore – you will be strictly bottom fishing. The trick for being successful here is to have a clean “junk free” terminal tackle set up. By junk free, I mean no snap swivels, no wire leaders, and as light a line and weight as possible.

    Tackle

  • Medium weight bottom fishing rig
    • A Peen 4/0 or maybe smaller for a reel.
    • A nice stiff bottom rod.
    • 30 to 50 pound test monofilament line
    • Fluorocarbon leaders
    • Only enough weight to get you to the bottom – as dictated by the current.

    Bait

  • Live Bait

    Offshore mangrove snapper will be larger than their inshore counterparts. Live bait is always the preferred method, but sometimes it can be hard to find

    • Live cigar minnows
    • Live Spanish sardines
    • Live pinfish
  • Dead Bait

    Any of the live baits mentioned will work as dead bait as long as it is fresh. Some frozen baits are so old that they fall apart as soon as they begin to thaw. Your snapper total will fall apart as well. Good cut chunks of pinfish – maybe one you caught that is too big to use live – sometimes are the best bait going.

  • Artificials

    Very few mangrove snapper are caught on artificials. However, they can be caught on them. Try deep jigging a red and white jig with a clean piece of strip bait on it.

Location

Most of the offshore wrecks and reefs hold grey snapper. They do move, so finding them on one reef this trip does not mean finding them next trip. You need to have several locations (GPS coordinates) to try. You may have to hit several locations before you find fish.
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