Capt. Rick Gross ripped up the rod, letting out a quick zing of line, then let out a grunt when he knew he’d been snagged.
That’s not a bad thing when going for mangrove snapper. Unless you’re getting some snags, you’re either not close enough to the bottom or are not even over the rocks or structure that typically attract mangrove snapper.
We fished what some anglers know as the “Rocks of Rattlesnake,” a collection of rocks off Rattlesnake Key in Terra Ceia Bay, and another nearby rock in the bay. Mangrove snapper are always a viable option in the summer and should continue to be until the first big cold front. Then, the mangos will head offshore.
So take advantage of the next month or two of mangrove snapper fishing. Capt. Gross used white bait hooked through the nose with enough weight to get the bait to the bottom. A 20-pound fluorocarbon leader helped prevent break-offs.
On this day, the tide was ripping, which changed Gross’ strategy for snapper fishing.
“The stronger the tide is, the closer you’ve got to be to the structure,” Gross said.
But each spot did not produce a slew of snapper, so we had to move on after a couple were landed.
“Snapper get real wary pretty quick,” Gross said. “Some days you have to keep moving, some days you can get them all at one spot and catch them real quick.”
The object of the trip was to get a keeper snook. Snook season opened Sept. 1, and anglers can keep one snook per day, between 28 and 33 inches. But it was soon obvious the snook action wasn’t gonna be there.
One of the first spots Gross set up was a cut by Tidy Island that passed by a mangrove island and a channel. Gross has had a lot of success with big snook cruising through the area, but this spot only produced one snook, a couple mangrove snapper and a couple trout.
We cut the trip a bit short around noon but already had bagged our limits of mangrove snapper.
Back at Catchers Marina on Anna Maria Island that afternoon, we did a little canal fishing. Gross figured this would be the best chance at catching some keeper snook, and indeed, we hooked into some big snook, although a couple managed to chew through our 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders.
“All the boat ramps are that way,” Gross said.
Right now, when the snook aren’t cooperating, the best second option is mangrove snapper.
Nick Walter, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7013.