Mangrove Snapper Fishing
Mangrove Snapper also known as the Grey Snapper is one of the most popular snapper species and is one of the few that can be caught inshore. They are shaped like most other snappers, display coloring ranging from bronze to grey and have a mouth full of teeth. Mangrove Snapper Fishing can be difficult at times but with this guide you should learn everything you need.
Early life of a Mangrove snapper
Mangrove Snapper spend the majority of their juvenile life inshore and move offshore when they reach adult age. Inshore they average between 10-18 inches and weight between 1-4 pounds. Offshore they can reach a size of over 20 pounds, but in shore, a fish over 3-5 pounds is very rare.
Where to Find Mangrove Snapper
Offshore they are primarily found around reefs and wrecks while inshore Mangroves can be found just about anywhere there is structure. They get their name from their preference to live around mangrove shorelines early on in life, but these are some other places that they are found:
- Beach Piers
- Bridges and Docks
- Rock Piles / Oyster Beds
- Deep holes/ Dredges
Snapper species tend to be bottom dwellers and the Mangrove snapper is no different, however, many times they will be found throughout the water column. It is rare to find them on the surface, but they are frequently found from mid depth down to the bottom.
Inshore, Mangrove Snapper rarely get above 3 pounds so just about any inshore, saltwater sealed gear will work well. The most popular rod and reel combo when targeting these fish is a light spinning reel with a medium action rod. Saltwater Conventional reels are also very popular when fishing around structure with live bait.
Because Mangroves are almost always found near heavy cover. Because of this braided line is the best option. Braid has great abrasion resistance and is very strong. Line in the 15-40 pound test class will work great.
Mangrove Snapper have AMAZING eyesight so a tough, low visibility leader is a manditory. Fluorocarbon works perfectly for this task because of its abrasion resistance and is ultra low visibility in the water.. Use a leader that is between 15-30lbs.
Using Artificial Lures for Mangrove Snapper Fishing
Snapper are not known as the most willing strikers of artificial lures in the ocean, but there are many that will work. These are a few examples:
- Berkley Gulp Shrimp
- Curl Tail Grubs
- Soft Plastic Shrimp
- Soft Plastic Jerk Bait
- Mud Minnow / Finger Mullet imitation lures
When using artificial make sure to use a lure small enough to fit in the mouths of the snapper you are after. Cast as close to the structure as you can without getting snagged and work the bait slowly and erratically back. As with most snapper species, Mangrove snapper will hit hard, so set the hook as soon as they hit.
Using Live Bait for Mangrove Snapper Fishing
Using Live bait is one of the most successful method of catching Mangrove Snapper. They are voracious predators and willing eat many types of live bait. The stand alone best live bait for inshore snapper is Mud Minnows. Mud minnows last a very long time in captivity, are very durable on the hook and are almost irresistible to Mangrove Snapper. Some other good baits include:
- Live Shrimp
- Small Finger Mullet
- Scaled Sardines
- Small Pinfish
- Small Crabs
Live Bait Rigs for Mangrove Snapper Fishing
For inshore snapper the two most popular rigs are the fish finder (aka carolina rig) and the knocker rig.
The fish finder rig is a hook attached to a 10-30” leader. Above the leader is a barrel swivel, a bead and then a egg sinker. While using this rig, use only the minimal amount of weight needed to hold the bottom.
A knocker rig has a hook attached to a 10-30” leader that is directly attached to the main line. A egg sinker is tied on to the main line and allowed to free float on the line all the way down to the eye of the hook. This allows the bait to be held on the bottom and with a small jig of the rod tip produce a small knocking sound when the sinker knocks into the of the hook.
Live Bait Techniques for Mangrove Snapper Fishing
When fishing from piers, docks, or bridges many anglers always think that the deepest water will always be the most productive. This is almost always not the case! The most productive will be the areas with cover and current that will attract mangrove snapper. Study the structure. Look under the pier/dock/bridge for any areas that the current changes direction slightly, has a rock pile, a hole caused by current or any other structure. Drop the bait down just up current of this structure (most frequently either strait down or slightly under the structure you are fishing from).
Mangrove Snapper are mostly aggressive feeders but at times can be subtle eaters as well. Most days they will hit a bait so hard it bends the rod immediately. Occasionally they will barely touch the bait and sit still while eating it. On days that the fish are hitting very lightly, reduce the size of your hook and the weight, along with the leader size. This will not only make the hit easier to detect but will also encourage the fish to eat faster because of less resistance.
Many areas around the world require circle hooks by law when fishing for reef fish (which all snapper are considered). When using these hooks be aware not to use the classic upward jerking motion to set the hook. These hooks were designed to grab the fish by the side of the mouth as it is being pulled out of their mouth. So all that is needed is a slight upward motion and to bein reeling in the line.