The extremely warm winter we are experiencing has some fish and fishermen a little confused. Typical cold-water patterns that would usually be implemented this time of year have not been necessary. Many fish are in a holding pattern waiting for water temperatures to make a significant drop. One species that can be consistent through warm- and cold-water conditions is mangrove snapper. They thrive in our warm waters throughout summer yet remain active during our coldest winters. The smaller baitfish that are still available can be very effective when targeting snapper, but a mangrove snapper will never ignore a live shrimp. Conceal the hook by threading the shrimp from the tail forward to avoid the snapper's keen eyesight. Pinching the fan of the shrimp's tail off will also release its scent to draw the snapper in. They respond well to chum, so dicing a few of whatever is on the hook and dropping it into the strike zone will always perk up the bite. The largest concentrations of snapper tend to hold on the highest relief of any structure. Look for them on artificial reefs, wrecks, bridges and the rocky edges of the shipping channel.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (727) 510-1009.