Catch More By Chumming for Mangrove Snapper
Chumming for mangrove snapper produces more fish than perhaps any other tactics utilized for this species. Grovers are veracious eaters that can be whipped up into a frenzy with good chum. They can also be super finicky. Once you introduced hooked baits and start taking one or two fish from the water, the bite can just shut off. Spot hopping is a smart approach to keep the action going, so be prepared to fish multiple spots. Now, there is always that one day or that one spot that will produce more fish than you need, but the norm will be a hit and move strategy of mangrove snapper fishing.
The mangrove or gray snapper is one of the more delectable fish you can eat. It is prized by many anglers. Depending on the quality of the water you are fishing and the type of structure the fish are on, your leader can range from 12 up to 60 pounds. You do have inshore and offshore fish. The smaller fish tend to be inshore and the bigger obviously offshore. This is a structure oriented species that loves to inhabit rock piles, reefs, pilings, wrecks and oil platforms. In the Gulf of Mexico, you can find mangrove snapper way offshore. Further than you would imagine. The water color in the upper Gulf around Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas can change from green to blue, so you have to be prepared with your tackle. Inshore, along the West coast of Florida the water is going to be rather clear. The murkier the water, the bigger your gear can be. The cleaner, the more you will have to down size. Mangrove snapper are finicky, like I said.
The size of the fish you are seeing on the wrecks, rigs, rock piles or whatever structure you are fishing will determine the tackle you use. Light tackle fluorocarbon leaders in the 12-20 range for inshore and stuff in the 30-60 pound range for offshore is a good rule of thumb. If the water is green, you can get away with heavier gear. Your main concern is can you get the fish away from the structure before you get cut off. Use the max leader size you can get away with. Then dial up the drag and get to work. This snapper is like a tuna, when it comes to line sensitivity and hook placement in the bait. You have to be smart.
When it comes to chumming for mangrove snapper, where you set up on the structure is key to getting the bait in the bite zone. The current is going to push the chum, your bait and your boat. You really don't want to constantly reposition your boat. Find out whether the fish are up current or down current relative to the structure. If you are inshore in clear water and you can see the fish, set up so can easily drift chum to the fish and cast. For offshore oil rigs, you really have to play the current with your boat. The up current side will usually be better for holding fish and the down current side is easier for fishing and holding the boat in place. Whatever side you find the fish on will determine how you need to chum. You want to chum to wash over and drift past the fish. Throw a few handfuls. Once you see fish come up, toss in your hooked baits. Keep in mind that you want your hooked to bait to fall in the water column with your chum. This is super important. You may need to feed the out slowly and steadily until you feel the take. This is very similar to chunking for tuna.
The baits you hook vary depending on availability in the area you fish. Just about any decent frozen bait will work. Poagies or menhaden, croakers, pilchards, etc. work very well. Shrimp work wonders for inshore. Cut nice chunks that you can hide the hook in. Experiment with the bait size. Start small and then try larger, if they aren't biting. Change tactics as needed. Live bait is certainly super effective, but not always available. Plus, it is more expensive and you need to keep it alive. Frozen bait fish is lethal, so think about your options.
When it comes to the actual chum you use for mangrove snapper, you can go with a chum block or you can use the super effective macaroni chum. Mix al dente elbow macaroni, or something similar, with one inch bait chunks. It is easy to start with frozen bait, as you can use the same in larger chunks for your hooked baits. Some fishermen cook the noodles in crab boil, but it is not necessary. What works is a mix of fishy macaroni. Keep it in a bucket and toss out as needed. This is a little cleaner that dealing with a chum block. Prepare the mangrove snapper chum before you start fishing. Once you are set up on your spot, throw a few scoops or handfuls out and give it a minute. See if you can stir up any action.
With mangrove snapper a little more angling skill is required compared to say red snapper. For reds, you can drop weighted baits down and boom. Grovers are more discerning. Your leaders and hooks have to be the right size. The bait needs to be the size they are eating. If the bait does not fall at the same rate as the chum, they will ignore it. You have to pay close attention to this bit of information. The bite can switch on and then off quickly. If you are on fish that are biting, fish as hard as you can. Once the bite stops, move to another spot and start over.
Watch In The Spread fishing videos to learn more about chumming for mangrove snapper or snapper fishing in general.
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