What's hot: Mangrove snapper are often encountered while drifting the flats this time of year as they school in preparation for spawning later. When using a typical 8- or 9-weight fly rod with size 1 or 1/0 flies, a snapper will be hooked. Probing deeper areas in grassy flats, rock piles and docks are often key locations.
Technique: If one is found, many more are there. A 4- or 5-weight fly rod with a sink tip line and a 6-foot leader tapered to 8-pound test fluorocarbon is needed, especially if the water is clear. Select a small weighted size 8 fly that imitates a crab, minnow or shrimp. Use a countdown method and retrieve when the fly is close to the bottom or structure. Set the hook at the slightest strike.
Tip: The light fly tackle gives these small but strong fish a chance to pull, and the bait stealing will be foiled by constant hookups with the smaller flies. Five can be kept if over 10 inches. Always check FWC regulations.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.