If you’re interested in fishing in and around Anna Maria Island, you probably have a mangrove snapper on your mind.
Heck, if you’re interested in eating fish around AMI, you’ve probably encountered snapper on just about every seafood restaurant menu from Pine Avenue to St. Armands Circle.
That’s because mangrove (grey) snapper have all the hallmarks of a fabulous fish for sport and sustenance alike: Snapper meat tastes awesome, the fish are relatively plentiful and their population is resilient, and they are super-fun to fish.
So if you want to know about inshore fishing here in the Sarasota Bay and Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, mangrove snapper is an awesome place to start. Here’s some info on how (and why) you should try to catch mangrove (grey) snapper in Sarasota.
What Are Red Snapper?
Mangrove snapper are a bottom-dwelling reef fish, meaning they like coral reefs as well as pretty much any hard structures: rocks, limestone, and even piers and seawalls.
Snapper are named for their prominent canine teeth. The mangrove snapper are grey to dark-grey in color.
Adults are usually 12 inches or longer, with the heaviest reaching 25 lbs. in weight. Wild mangrove snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and inshore can live for more than 40 years.
When is Sarasota-Manatee Mangrove Snapper Season 2023?
Mangrove snapper season here on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida started June 16th and runs through July 31, 2023.
There is also a fall mangrove snapper season in Florida, which runs only on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) during October and November.
What Do Mangrove Snapper Eat?
As bottom-dwellers, mangrove snapper love to eat crustaceans (shrimp and crab). They also feed on smaller fish and plankton, as well as octopus or squid and even worms.
What Kind of Tackle Do You Use to Catch Mangrove Snapper?
Mangrove (Grey) snapper are picky—which is part of what makes them fun to fish!—so you need to put some care into your choice of bait or lure.
The size of the bait will help determine the size of the mangrove snapper you catch. Larger bait discourages smaller reef fish from nibbling on your line. However, you don’t want something so big that you’ve overshot the size of fish in the area.
Your best bet for Sarasota mangrove snapper is live bait like cigar minnows or pilchards (with an appropriately sized live bait hook, of course). For casting and drifting, you’ll want to hook the live bait toward the tail of the body.
Barring live bait, you can have a lot of luck with Bonita strips. Shiny lures and vertical jigs can also provide plenty of luck.
Where Do You Fish for Mangrove Snapper?
When it comes to inshore excursions, you’ll find mangrove snapper around hard structures. Piers and seawalls are easy enough to find. But if you really want a good spot for mangrove snapper, you need to know where the reefs and wrecks are.
Of course, I’ve got my own special mangrove snapper holes around Anna Maria, but I don’t like to share them on the internet. You’ll have to book a charter to see them for yourself!
Are Mangrove Snapper Fun to Catch?
You bet! Though they’re not as big as a lot of sport fish, mangrove snapper put up an incredible fight. You never know what they’re gonna do!
Of course, the simplest way to catch mangrove snapper is to hire a professional, experienced, Anna Maria fishing charter to put you on the fish. As always, trust your professional captain to put you in the best spot, with the best bait, for the day. One way or the other, you are bound to have fun fishing for these great Gulf snapper!