August 15th is the Sturgeon Moon. I don’t think we will see any sturgeon in this part of the Atlantic but the big East Coast Mangroves will probably make a appearance. On a side note one of our Captains swears up and down he seen a sturgeon leap into the air a handful of months back so you just never know. Like I always say “There’s no fences”. We are coming off of Summer and will see a transition this is still the time of year, when the seas are calm, the water is clear and bait fish are abundant – the full moon can create a mangrove snapper feeding frenzy. With superior eye sight and ideal hunting conditions mangroves will venture all the way to the surface and spread out across the reef to feed on crabs, shrimp, squid, bait fish and anything else they can catch.
Mangrove fisherman have been perfecting their game for years and you will find the best of the best up and down both the East and West Coast especially those fishing aboard party boats. A lot of anglers have a strong mangrove game but here are a few pointers to give you a edge the next time you head out or jump on board a party fishing boat. Mangroves have unmatched eye sight and as they get bigger they become very cautious. You have to lighten up on your leader and use fluorocarbon, but and there is always a but, you can go too light. We grow them big out of Canaveral so if you are fishing directly on the bottom 40lb test is the absolute bare minimum. You should really start with 80lb test and work your way down until you get the bites. If you start breaking fish off you will shut them down.
Sliding sinker rig fished tight to the bottom is the most effective rig for mangroves in this area. Use the smallest weight you can to hold bottom. Drop down to a 50lb swivel and drop down in hook size but make sure you use a strong enough hook that allows you to pull. Mangroves are not as stupid as red snapper, they will find the structure in a hurry. Pay attention to details such as clipping the tag end of you leader short, change any abrasion or fray in your leader because abrasion negates the purpose of your fluorocarbon. Bait presentation and leader length are very important. The very best advice that can’t be stressed enough is pay attention to the details. Everything matters when mangrove fishing.
Mangrove snapper up in the water column are a entire different animal than when they are feeding on the bottom. Everything has to be perfect to catch these fish. Drop down to 20-50 lb test and learn by practicing how to apply perfect drag pressure with your hand because perfect preset drag does not exist for this style of fishing. This can’t be taught because it is a feel and understanding of where in the water column you got the bite, how far the fish has pulled drag to the amount of pressure you apply before breaking the line or the fish gets you all the way back into the bottom. Bait presentation is key, hook has to be hidden and the bait has to fall at the same rate as the chum.
All kinds of baits work for mangrove snapper. Small live baits such as cigar minnows, pilchards, pin fish and grunts are perfect gum drops. More mangroves have been caught on grunt plugs and lips than any other bait there is and the frozen sardine or cigar minnow is a close second.
I could write a entire book on tips and tricks to mangrove snapper fishing but a good place to start is by applying these few simple tips and techniques. If you are aboard a party boat pay attention to what other’s are doing that are catching them and you will find out how thrilling and rewarding this amazing fishery is. It also doesn’t hurt that they taste fantastic also.
Here in my home water of Cape Canaveral our local party boat is running a evening mangrove trip on the 15th the Sturgeon Moon. If anyone is interested this is the perfect opportunity to practice. www.fishobsession.com 321-453-3474
About Captain Greg
Captain Greg has been fishing the waters of Port Canaveral and the Atlantic for over 30 years. He has the largest and most highly rated private charter business in Port Canaveral, Sea Leveler Sport Fishing Charters. Greg and his team of full time captains fish well over 200 days each per year. We have kept detailed catch history for every trip ran since 2010. You can access this history at www.sealeveler.com/reports. His engineer wife, Amber, has analyzed the catch history along with other historical data such as water temperature and weather patterns. Greg uses his fishing experience and knowledge along with his wife’s statistical analysis to bring you the best fishing report available for Port Canaveral. Greg will give you the honest truth on how the fishing has been along with his best prediction of what to expect by using all of this information.
Capt. Greg on the web: https://www.sealeveler.com/
Phone: (321) 794-3474