Snapper Fishing Basics

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Snapper are found mostly offshore near reefs, wrecks and rock piles.  Inshore, you will find mangrove snapper around bridges, along the mangroves and under docks, but these snapper are much smaller on average than what you will find offshore.

How to Catch Snapper

Snapper fishing is fairly easy if you can find them.  Anglers have a lot of success fishing with shrimp, mud minnows, small pinfish and finger mullet.  Most of the bites will come close to the bottom, so anglers will use a variety of bottom rigs to target snapper.  The fish finder rig is one of the most popular bottom fishing rigs for snapper.

Recommended Tackle

Snapper tackle can vary based on the type of snapper because the different types of snapper can range greatly in size.  Smaller snapper can be caught with medium action gear and 10 pound test line while you may be fishing offshore for with 40 to 60 pound line or even heavier as you target Cubera snapper in the 40 to 50 pound range or even bigger.  When you’re targeting bigger snapper, go with heavy action rods and reels and you’ll get more fish up to the boat.

Eating Snapper

Snapper are delicious.  They can be found in most grocery stores and in seafood restaurants throughout the country.  There are tons of recipes out there for snapper.  You can bake, grill and fry them and they will taste great.  It all depends on your personal preference.

Offshore Fishing for Snapper

Snapper are one of the most popular fish to target offshore.  They are can be a lot of fun to catch, they taste excellent and you can usually find big schools of snapper on the reefs and wrecks.  Some of the popular types of snapper that anglers target offshore are red snapper, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, cubera snapper, lane snapper and silk snapper.

To find the reefs and wrecks that hold snapper, you’re going to need a good chart that shows where these spots are located.  If you don’t want to do it on your own, most of the popular fishing destinations that offer snapper fishing will also have many offshore fishing charters that know where the best fishing spots are located.

Inshore Fishing for Snapper

 Most anglers think of fishing offshore when they think of snapper, but some species of snapper can be found in bays and estuaries that are found inshore.  Mutton snapper and mangrove snapper are probably the most popular snapper that are found inshore in shallow water.

Many of the structures that are found inshore will hold some mangrove snapper.  You can catch these fish around bridges, along mangrove-lined shorelines, around docks and piers and even in the surf.  Anglers catch mangrove snapper with a variety of baits.  Some of the best baits to use for mangrove snappers are live and dead shrimp, mud minnows, small pinfish, small finger mullet and small crabs.

To learn more about targeting mangrove snapper inshore, take a look at this page:

Mangrove Snapper Fishing Tips

How the Tides Affect Snapper Fishing

Inshore, the tides dictate how, when and where most of the fish will feed.  When fishing for mangrove snapper around inshore waters, the high tides usually offer better fishing around docks and mangrove-lined shorelines.  The lower tides push the mangrove snapper into the deeper cuts and channels near their favorite shallow water structure.  The bridges and piers will usually hold fish during either tide.  Moving water is key to finding feeding mangrove snapper, so make sure to fish during the tidal changes for the best results.

Offshore, the tides don’t play as big of a role on the fishing.  Some charter captains report that the tides don’t have any effect on the fishing, while others believe that some moving water is good, but faster currents make it harder to position baits on the underwater structure and chumming becomes more difficult.  It is much more important to have some good reefs and wrecks on your gps than to be worried about the tides when fishing the offshore waters.

Spawning Snapper

There are so many species of snapper and they do not all spawn at the same time.  These fish spawn from spring through fall and most species of snapper do spawn during the summer months.  Some of these fish will spawn multiple times throughout the spawning season.  If you happen to find some of these spawning snapper, you will usually find them schooled up in large numbers.  If you can get on top of them, you should be able to fill your cooler in a short amount of time.

Snapper Fishing Seasons

You need to make sure to check your state’s fishing regulations on snapper before you decide to keep some of these fish for the dinner table.  It is common to see open and closed fishing seasons for these fish.  During a closed fishing season, you can still catch snapper, but you can’t keep them.


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