Mangrove snapper fishing inside the bay has been excellent. Their name would imply that we'd be fishing in the backcountry under lush mangrove shorelines. They are an inshore variety of snapper that spends its juvenile years under mangrove roots in estuary systems. As the mangrove snapper mature and grow, they move to deeper waters of the bay and eventually offshore. We have been most successful at the deeper rock piles, limestone outcroppings along the edges of the shipping channel, artificial reefs, and even bridge pilings and fenders leading to the gulf. Live shrimp has been our best bait choice. The smaller shrimp tend to out-produce the larger ones on a bite to hook-up ratio. The bonus to using shrimp is the addition of sheepshead, which are holding on the same structures. Sheepshead are at the peak of their spawning cycle with a full moon. As with any spawning species that plays a vital role in the future of our fish stocks, harvest responsibly. Large females that are intended for release should be handled gently, and respectfully.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at [email protected] and (727) 510-1009.