Mangrove Snapper in Tampa Bay

Boatless Fishing reports for the Hillsborough County - Tampa Area - Also the countys of Citrus - Hernando - Pasco - Pinellas - Manatee - Sarasota - Desoto
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SnookMook
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Mangrove Snapper in Tampa Bay

Post by SnookMook »

This is a bit of a belated report, but myself and Wrangler have been slaying the Mangrove Snapper out at the Gandy Bridge over Tampa Bay a little earlier this year than last. They started showing up at the end of April and have been pretty consistent and of good size early on as well. We’ve been catching some nice ones since the end of April in the 13-14 inch range and I even managed to pull up a nice 15 1/2 incher. That matches the biggest one I pulled up last year toward the end of season in early October, so I’m hoping we might get some nice size ones this year later in the season.

Anyway we’ve tried many techniques for digging em out, they always seem to hug the pilings under the catwalk and do seem to consistently move around. We've only tried the St. Pete side so far, but I'm gonna give the Tampa side a shot soon. We’ve had excellent catches pitching straight under the catwalk. A strong incoming tide seems to be more productive, however the outgoing has produced as well and I’ve even caught on the outgoing casting against big square pilings of the new span.

Here’s a few photos from a number of outings Wrangler and I have made. Of course Wrangler’s ratio of hookups to bait thieving as usual far exceeds mine, but I’ve put quite few nice keepers in the cooler. LOL

Here’s the first keeper of the season for me.

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Here’s your’s truly holding another keeper from the next day.

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Here’s my nice 15 1/2 incher. My fattest from the Gandy yet this season and as big as any I pulled up last year.

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Here’s a sequence of Wrangler showing how we dig for Snapper at the Gandy Bridge catwalk.

Wrangler adjusting the amount of line he has out.

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Wrangler sets the hook on a good bite.

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Wrangler digs that bugger out as it makes a run for the pilings.

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The result of Wrangler’s expertise at Mango digging. LOL

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And finally another nice one that your’s truly pulled up.

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The Grovers are in the Bay and should be here all Summer and they are as tasty as ever. LOL

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StyngRay
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Post by StyngRay »

First and foremost, congrats on you catch. It's nice to see anglers targeting a species and land what they shoot for.
I'd like to hone my skills to land a few snappers this season....
would you care to mention what size hooks you use as well as what bait is favored? Thx in advance and again...congrats SnookMook!
Keep it cool 8)
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SnookMook
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Post by SnookMook »

StyngRay-- First and foremost as far as hooks I use mainly #2 and #4 Owner J-hooks or #2, #4, or even as small as #6 Owner Mutu Circles. You basically gotta set the hook usually, although over here on the West Coast, I've quite often caught big ones (16-17 inchers) while fishing for Snook with a live shrimp hooked through the horn with a #1/0 circle.

Here is some rather lengthy cut and pasted info, I've compiled, that Wrangler and myself have posted on another Forum we frequent.


Wrangler---

Mono. Mono. Mono.

Though SnookMook likes that green braided stuff.

I use 12 or 15 lb line. Put on a 1/2 ounce to 2 ounce slip sinker, depending on the force of the tide. Small swivel. Approx. 15-inches of no-see-um leader (flourocarbon). I like to use 17-lb flouro, but will go heavier when I get into a school of bigger fish I can't stop. (Bigger fish in this business means 14-inch plus mango's) I use a number 4 J hook.

The first 3-5 seconds of the fight is awesome (note the rod bend above). That is a 7 1/2 medium-action Redbone rod in the picture. And look how small that mangrove is - 11-12 inches. Man, they can tug when they've got the current on their side.

I recently bought an Alumina AL40 spinning reel. It is really smooth. But after a summer of catching these mango's, it might not be.
By the way - The same system can be used at the Skyway. You just have to work the bridge(s) until fish are found. Sometimes they're not.

SnookMook--

I use about 18 inches of clear leader with a swivel tied to my main line, which is high vis mono, with a sliding barrel sinker above the swivel. Depending on the current out there, which can be quite strong close in on the St. Pete side, I've gone as high as a three ounce sinker to hold it on the bottom. Further down the catwalk the current isn't as strong and I drop down to 1 oz sometimes.

I'm pretty sure Wrangler uses a similar setup, but I don't think he ever goes above a 2 oz. sinker. As you can see from Wrangler's above post, we don't pay much attention to the other's rigs. LOL

Now as far as hooks go. Wrangler prefers a J-hook, I switch between J-hooks and Circle hooks. Think small though, #4 or #2 is usually what I use at the Gandy. You're gonna have to set the hook anyway. Sort of like fishing for Sheepies, when you feel a nibble you better set the hook.

What's that old cracker saying? When you feel a nibble, count to three and set the hook on one.

SnookMook---

I prefer live shrimp or fresh dead shrimp pinched in half and threaded on the hook. But, that is partially due to the fact that after all these years I still suck at throwing a cast net. Wrangler prefers to throw a net in shallow water near the mangroves. Hence Mangrove Snapper.

There are numerous species of bait caught on the flats near the groves that they will devour besides shrimp. First and foremost mud minnows/chubs, small Mojarra, and small Sardines, along with crabs and small Oyster/Toad fish. It really pays sometimes while you're cleaning em to do a little CSI Miami on their stomach contents to see what they're munching on. It seems to change even through the season from one month to the next. They are a true example of species specific, available predatory-bait behavior. I realize that down South and on the East Coast the tactics may differ greatly, but that is how we fish for em up here.

You can PM me for more info if you'd like.

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StyngRay
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Post by StyngRay »

thank you! :wink: I found the info very useful.
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swordfish
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Post by swordfish »

Once again... I simply love this website... That is how we fish for them down in the keys, depending on the tide and weather conditions... HOWEVER It just dawned on me to cut one open as soon as it comes up and over (after killing it with a sharp blade right above the eye) to find out what they are eating... I honestly believe doing that will make your catch rate increase considerably. Not to mention making you run for this "weird and unusual bait".

-Swordfish
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SnookMook
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Post by SnookMook »

Thank you for the compliments and your welcome everyone.
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gruntking
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Post by gruntking »

a that looks just like gandy
man i use to realy love fishing that place
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SnookMook
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Post by SnookMook »

Gruntking--That is the Gandy, St. Pete side. I love fishing out there.
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"May your lines be tight and your shake off's and break off's memorable."

http://forshorefishing.theledger.com/

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FloridaCub
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Post by FloridaCub »

i used to live right off of westshore and gandy...i sure miss that bridge...and wading off of weedon island.

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anubis10111
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Post by anubis10111 »

hello eveyone, Can anybody give me the directions to the gaby bridge I'll be going to the skyway pier on thrusday but I'll like to try this pier too.. and I'll be coming from Miami.
R.I.P. Johnny
10/31/69-02/06/08

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anubis10111
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Post by anubis10111 »

Sorry guys! I meant to say the gandy bridge. Please any directions Ill be coming fro miami but I'll stop at the skyway first. I'll be in tampa for three days, Thanks guys.
R.I.P. Johnny
10/31/69-02/06/08

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SnookMook
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Post by SnookMook »

anubis--If you're going north from the Skyway go north on I-275 and get off at Gandy Boulevard exit. Go east and you'll come up on the bridge. Veer left before the bridge, just after the radio towers and park on the left side at the approach to fish the St. Pete side which is better for Snapper and Pompano.

Otherwise you gotta drive all the way over to turn around unless you want to fish the Tampa side. There is a catwalk both north and south on both St. Pete and Tampa side.

I limited out on nice keeper Mangos and caught three nice keeper pompano on Sunday. Also had one nice Spanish Mackerel and wasn't even fishing for them. Lots of cobia right now too. My buddy caught a short on Sunday. Fishing is good right now from the Gandy.
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"May your lines be tight and your shake off's and break off's memorable."

http://forshorefishing.theledger.com/

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Frogfish101
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Post by Frogfish101 »

I might try that bridge next time I'm in town.
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anubis10111
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Post by anubis10111 »

Thanks alot SnookMook for the info I apreciated. I'll give it a shot when i get there. I'll keep you posted on what I catch. Thanks again.
R.I.P. Johnny
10/31/69-02/06/08

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FloridaCub
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Post by FloridaCub »

Wade County Beng and I fished the north side of the Skyway Bridge last night. Plenty of bait around with bluefish and lady fish smashing the baits adjacent to the lights. If you had a 1.5 inch sardine free lined, you would definitely get a hookup on something.

Live greenies, freshly cut greenies, and live shrimp yielded a good 8 grovers for us. We fished just shy of the bait house and it seemed like we were the only ones catching anything. Had a few great hits that we, of course, let get away :) Next time I think I'm going to use J hooks instead of circles, because you really have to feel for these fish and set at the right time. Then again, all fish that weren't legal sized were hooked perfectly on the lip...and guaranteed a safe and successful release.

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fishnfool73
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Re: Mangrove Snapper in Tampa Bay

Post by fishnfool73 »

Take this spamming bs elsewhere.... mods delete this crap
Dreaming the dream that one day I can be as good as some of the boatless pros and catch some 12 inch mangrove snapper.

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