Mangrove Snapper have stolen the summer!
Over the last month, the inshore snapper bite has been tremendous. From bottom fishing around the skyway and shipping channel, to fishing under the mangroves, there has been no shortage of these aggressive feeders, which also make great table fare!
Only needing a 10” minimum tail length and bag of 5 per person in state waters, these fish are perfect to target in the summer. While bottom fishing for snapper, I like to use just enough weight to get your desired bait to stay on the bottom or bounce across the bottom in stronger currents. A typical set-up would consist of a ¼ oz. jig head or ½-1 oz. knocker rig with a small hook usually being a 1-2/0 depending on the size of snapper you are targeting, with a nice piece of shrimp being frozen or alive. I like to start the tip of the hook at the base of the shrimp’s tail and feed the hook all the way through the body and out the bottom so that the tip of the hook gets camouflaged amongst the legs and you can feel every bite. Snapper are a wonderful species to keep you engaged, while you also try your hand at a gag grouper, which often times can be found hanging around the same structure and habitat as the snapper. For these big ones, up your tackle to 30-50 lb. fluorocarbon leader at least and a 5/0 hooked pinfish or cut bait, drop it down and hold on tight. While fishing around the mangroves for snapper I use a light jig head or split shot weight positioned roughly 10” above the hook and use live shrimp or small pilchards.
Speaking of small pilchards, it’s that time of summer where we have a new hatch of small baits flooding the passes, flats, and beaches. Break out your ½ in (¼ sq.) mesh nets or you’ll have a tough time cleaning out the gilled baits after you’ve thrown. Using these smaller baits can be just as effective as bigger baits around the flats just remember to pair it with a smaller hook to allow the bait freedom to swim. If you enjoy throwing artificial baits, sizing those down as well can provide more strikes as you to match the hatch.
It has been a long time since I have been able to put clients on a consistent trout bite since that devastating red tide spell we had in 2018. However, in recent months and particularly this month, the trout have been fired up! I am seeing more and more pushing that 20-inch plus range, which is a great sign of things to come for the trout fishery rebounding in our region. These extremely hot summer days and high water temps have made for a tough bite as that sun gets up to its peak in the middle of the day.Although the big tides around that new moon at the end of June has brought with it big swinging tides keeping the water moving and the fish chewing.
High tide makes finding the fish tough and accessing them even tougher, as they push their way further into the mangroves searching for lower temps and protection from predators. Your best bet for redfish, snook, trout, and even snapper is finding a mangrove line with moving water and putting your baits on the edges of the mangroves. The trick is keeping them in a position to be an easy meal enticing these fish from their hideouts. Techniques that can assist you in doing so, include a float or bobber 18-24 inches above your bait or a slip weight/ split shot to hold that bait to the bottom and on that edge, both requiring a cast flirting with danger,as you side arm it under those low lying branches.
Good luck and good fishing.
Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.Filed Under: Fishing Reports