Snapper is an incredible gamefish that also makes great table fare. They range in size from just a couple pounds to over a hundred pounds and everywhere in between. Most all species can be found throughout Florida ranging in depths of just a few feet to several hundred feet. This means that no matter whether you’re fishing the inshore mangroves or oyster bars or fishing the reefs and wrecks offshore, you have a good chance at hooking up with a snapper.
Snapper, as you can probably guess, gets its name from the mouth full of small, sharp teeth that are used to grab a hold of prey. They are carnivorous, active and gluttonous making them a top predator in the food chain. Those qualities are also what make these fantastic fish easy to target and catch.
Their characteristics are similar to those found in grouper and are often times caught while targeting snapper and vice-versa. Once hooked, snapper will immediately dive back down into the rocks, reef or wreck in which they came from. If they are successful in this, they will break you off everytime.
The most important part of the fight between you and the snapper is the first initial strike. It is important that you wrestle them from the structure quickly in order to gain the upperhand. This feat is much easily said than done. That’s why tackle plays an important role when targeting snapper.
When gearing up for snapper of any kind, it’s a good idea to leave your light tackle at home. I enjoy fishing with the lightest tackle that I’m able to get away with, but when it comes to snapper, it just doesn’t work. Heavy jigging rods with 50 to 80 pound braid and heavy monofilament leader is your best bet at filling the cooler with the sweet meat of snapper. Tie on a circle hook and throw on a live pinfish for your best bet at hooking up with a larger fish. Dead squid will also work well, but snapper will also hit several types of artificial lures as well. Metal jigs, soft plastics, jerk baits and even topwater poppers can be successful in finding snapper. That’s right, topwater. Poppers will work when the fish are close enough to the surface and is one of the most exhilarating ways to fish.
Whether you’re fishing for red snapper, lane, mutton, mangrove, vermillion or any of the other species of snapper, do yourself a favor and bring out the big guns. Unless you don’t mind leaving empty handed.