Mangrove Snapper on Slack Tide - William Toney

July 27, 2021
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Mangrove snapper fishing is a popular activity, with the full moon being a good time to catch them. They can be found in rockpiles, wrecks, markers, and springs. On high tides, they can be found near jumping mullet and keeper snappers. Live shrimp can be used as bait, and eating mangrove snapper can be done using pecan flour or marinating in soy sauce.

The full moon is a good bite from one of my favorite fish to catch, the mangrove snapper. The Big Bends inshore mangrove snapper don't grow as big as our offshore snapper but there are days I've been surprised on light tackle. Mangrove snapper fishing can turn into a feeding frenzy so intense that you can get one on every cast and just as soon as it happens it can shut down. Rockpiles, wrecks, markers and springs are the best places to fish for them and can be caught from three feet of water out to 10.

Rocky points on high tides with jumping mullet will have redfish but will also have some keeper snappers. To see if any are there toss a live shrimp on a 2/0 Owner SSW bait hook and look for them close to the boat. Most of the time you can watch them eat the bait before you set the hook. The fish you catch will not be monsters but on light tackle a 12 to 14 inch mango will be a fun fight.

Moving tide is good but I've found that when the high tide comes to a stand ( slack ) the bite is at its best. The water is generally clear so you can see the fish and I use live shrimp for bait. Pinch the tail of the shrimp and thread a 1/8 oz. chartreuse jighead into the tail and push the point out of the bottom as the keeper part of the jighead penetrates the tail of the shrimp. Mangroves respond to chumming so use the shrimp tails to chum. If there is to much chum in the water It draws in undesirable species like puffer fish and catfish, so just a little is best.

Fishing Tips for Mangrove Snapper

  1. Understanding Moon Phases: While the full moon is indeed an excellent time to target Mangrove Snapper, it's also crucial to understand the behavior of these fish during different moon phases. During new moons, for example, the absence of moonlight can make snappers more active during the day, offering a different fishing experience.
  2. Tackle and Technique: Light tackle enhances the fight with Mangrove Snapper, making it more thrilling. When fishing inshore, consider using lighter lines and smaller hooks compared to offshore fishing. This not only provides a better fight but also suits the smaller size of inshore snappers.
  3. Bait and Lures: Besides live shrimp, small pinfish or cut bait like sardines can be very effective. Artificial lures, especially those mimicking small fish or crustaceans, can also yield good results, especially when fishing around structures.
  4. Fishing Locations: Beyond the mentioned rockpiles, wrecks, markers, and springs, look for underwater structures like ledges or docks. These structures often harbor smaller fish and crustaceans, attracting Mangrove Snappers.
  5. Environmental Considerations: Be mindful of the habitat. Mangrove ecosystems are delicate, and responsible fishing practices help preserve these environments for future generations.

Culinary Delights with Mangrove Snapper

Two of my favorite ways to eat mangrove snapper is to use pecan flour and fry the fillets. Another great cooking method is to scale, gut and head the fish. Then make two to three cuts on it's side and marinate them in soy sauce for about 15 minutes. After that fry them in hot oil. No breading is needed. Peel the meat off and use a peanut ginger sauce to dip it in. High incoming tide will be in the afternoon this weekend.

  1. Pecan-Floured Fillets: Expanding on the pecan flour method, consider adding a blend of Cajun spices to the flour for an extra kick. Ensure the oil is at the right temperature (around 350°F) for a crispy, golden exterior without overcooking the delicate meat inside.
  2. Soy Sauce Marinade: For the soy sauce marinade, adding a touch of honey and a squeeze of lime can balance the saltiness of the soy sauce and add a layer of complexity to the flavor. Remember to pat the fish dry before frying to ensure a crispy skin.
  3. Sustainability in Cooking: It’s important to highlight sustainable cooking practices. Use every part of the fish to reduce waste. For instance, fish bones and heads can be used to make a rich, flavorful broth.
  4. Pairing and Presentation: Serve the cooked snapper with a side of seasonal vegetables or a light salad to complement the richness of the fish. Presenting the fish whole (especially when using the soy sauce method) can make for an impressive and rustic presentation.
  5. Alternative Cooking Methods: Besides frying, consider grilling or baking the snapper. Grilling over charcoal can impart a smoky flavor, while baking is a healthier option that retains the natural flavors of the fish.

In Closing

Catching and cooking Mangrove Snapper can be a rewarding experience for both novice and experienced anglers and cooks. Understanding their habits, respecting their habitat, and experimenting with different cooking techniques can elevate the experience from just fishing and eating to a more holistic appreciation of this wonderful species. Remember, the key to successful Mangrove Snapper fishing and cooking lies in patience, respect for nature, and a willingness to experiment.

Capt. William Toney

Homosassa Inshore Fishing

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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