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Mangrove Snapper Fishing: Thre Complete Guide

Mangrove Snapper Fishing: How to catch Mangroves

Florida Mangrove Fishing: The Quest For The Other White Meat

When inshore fishing in Florida one of the targeted species of fish that anglers fish for is the mangrove snapper. The mangrove snapper looks like its cousins, like the red snapper and Cubera Snapper. They have a unique color display that ranges from a reddish bronze to a grey. The Latin name for the mangrove snapper is Lutjanus Griseus, which refers to them as the grey snapper. They are found plentiful in the inshore waters of Florida making them a favorite species of snapper to anglers.

Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove Snapper (Photo Credit: Fishtrack)

One reason many anglers will target mangrove snapper is for their delicious meat that always makes for a great meal. They are fun to catch and a magnificent species of fish that the whole family will enjoy catching. We will go into more details on where to fish for mangrove snapper, how to catch them and the best gear to get the job done. This is the ultimate guide for fishing for mangrove snapper.

Snapper Fishing Tip #1: Mangrove Snapper Identification

Mangrove Snappers In Mangroves

Grey Snapper In the Mangroves (Photo Credit: Florida Sportsman)

Mangrove snapper can be found throughout Florida both inshore and offshore. One reason a lot of anglers targets them is that they are relatively easy to catch with both live bait and artificial. Mangroves snapper do not get extremely big like their cousin the red snapper. On average they will reach a length of 14-16". A fish that exceeds 20" is a large mature mangrove. As far as weight, mangrove snapper can reach a weight of up to 17lbs. Many mangroves will average anywhere from 5 to 10lbs. These grey snappers have several distinct features that help anglers identify when they have caught a one.

  1. Each fish has a unique color pattern. They will have a dark tent on the dorsal side of the fish mixed with red and orange spots. 
  2. They have two canine teeth they make them look somewhat intimidating.
  3. In juvenile mangrove snapper, they have a dark band that runs through its eye.
  4. They have no dark spots anywhere on them.

Mangrove Snapper With Distinct Features

Mangrove Snapper With Its Distinct Features (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Once you know what you are looking for telling the difference between snappers is rather straightforward. Now that you know what they look like knowing where to find them and what time catch them on is critical.

Snapper Fishing Tip #2: Where to Find Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove habitat

The Perfect Mangrove Habitat (Photo Credit: Eiko Jones Photography)

One of the best things about snapper fishing is you do not need a boat to catch them. The mangrove snapper is an abundant species of snapper found in the inshore waters around Florida. They get their name for a reason, they love to live around and in the mangroves. They use the mangroves for protection. Other areas that often that anglers will choose to target when mangrove snapper fishing is any structure in the water like piers, docks, and bridges. The jetties are another area I have had great success with catching mangrove snapper. Other rock piles that are in the water, along with oyster shoals have been known to hold mangroves. The more massive mangroves are often found at inshore reefs or wrecks. I honestly feel if you find the structure, you will find the mangrove snapper.

Snapper Fishing Tip #3: How To Fish For Mangroves

Effective Mangrove Snapper Rigs

Effective Mangrove Snapper Rigs 

Depending on if you are fishing for mangrove snapper inshore or offshore will determine what you need for a set setup. Inshore fishing for snapper does not require the heavy duty equipment. A conventional spinning rod with 12lb to 20lb line is sufficient. I would not suggest using a light action rod because you will need to be able to pull them out of the mangroves and away from structures. A heavy action rod will eliminate any fight, so settle on a suitable medium action rod. I use a simple setup as far as terminal tackle. The Carolina rig that bass fishermen use is an easy inshore setup. Depending on the currents you will be fishing a 1oz egg sinker above a 1/0 swivel should be sufficient. A 2-foot leader of 20lb test line can be used with use a long shank 1/0 hook. This will allow you to catch all the inshore snapper you can handle. This is a live bait rig, so it required the use of live bait. The most common live bait used for mangrove snapper is live shrimp. Other live baits include mullet, mud minnow, crabs and cut pinfish. They cannot resist an excellent live bait meal. If you are heading offshore to fish wrecks, everything is more extreme and requires bigger fishing reels, fishing rods, heavier line, heavier sinkers and bigger baits. Offshore using vertical jigs, a mangrove may get pulled up. Fishing for them with artificial is a bad idea. Often when fishing for other offshore bottom-dwelling fish, you will bring in a mangrove every now and them.

Snapper Fishing Tip #4: Mangrove Fishing Techniques And Gear

catching mangrove snapper

Mangrove Snapper Fishing and rig (Photo Credit: Saltwater Sportsman)

Mangrove snappers are a super aggressive fish when eating. I often will try to find deep holes around mangroves that will hold fish. If you want to get the grey snapper going, chumming the water is an effective means. It will pull every mangrove snapper out of the mangroves. Unfortunately, you will have to fight all the small ones before you find the meat. When they are feeding it will not take long to detect a bite. When a mangrove strikes, it will be a quick hard bite. Simply set the hook and let the fun begin. When fishing with live shrimp, you want to put the hook through the back of the head. Right in front of their brain spot. This will result in a lot of hits so be ready to have to rebait time and time again. If your bait sits there for an extended period either the fish, have picked your hook clean, or the fish are not around. One thing you must always consider when out fishing is the right gear. Protect yourself for the suns harmful UV rays with a fishing hat, fishing puff, and a saltwater performance shirt.

Another important thing to remember when fishing for mangrove snapper is the regulations for where you are fishing.

Gray (Mangrove)

State: 10" TL

Federal: 12" TL

State: 5 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Federal: 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Open year-round


Florida Mangrove Snapper Limits

Knowing these laws will avoid any headaches with the FWC, and prevent you from accruing heavy fines. Help protect our mangroves populations by fishing according to the limits.

The last thing one must consider is fishing with artificial lures. The jig head is vital. Using a jig with a large eye is my personal preference. The eye strike big eye jig head in a quarter ounce is the perfect inshore jig head. Pair this with a great soft plastic like a K wigglers will entice all the mangroves and any other coastal species around. A slow retrieval is critical allowing it to bump across the bottom. If you get into a school of mangroves, you could go through some soft plastics fast. Overall catching mangrove snapper is a blast and makes for an even better dinner.

Mangrove snapper fishing is the perfect Florida fishing trip that can be done from a boat, land or pier. Not only do you get great action, but you will fill a cooler full of fish, perfect for dinner. If you have any questions or comments, we want to hear them and answer them. Feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at Send us your snapper pictures to be featured on all of our social media pages. Maybe you have a tip that we have not mentioned we would love to hear it and share with our readers. Get out there and catch a limit of mangrove snappers today!

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Roderick Johnson - October 28, 2019

were can i catch them around Tampa, and what the best time to go.

Ron - January 17, 2019

What is the best time for fishing for mangrove snappers

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