Mangrove snapper have gathered around deep offshore structures for their summer spawn. From 65 to 250 feet of water the big snapper are swarming. It is not easy to catch fish out of these big schools — few species are as line-shy and wary of fishing tackle than the wily "mango." Last week, at a small wreck in 95 feet of water, we saw snapper so we chummed with cut threadfin herring. The school, including several big yellowtail snapper, rose to the surface and ate the chum. We freelined chunk baits on light spinning rods rigged with braided line and 30-foot long leaders of 30-pound test fluorocarbon. The bite was good until goliath grouper stole several fish and broke off all but one of our fluorocarbon leaders. We rigged two rods with 30-pound test monofilament leader and fished them alongside the other. It became readily apparent that they were not going to bite a bait rigged on mono. The rod with our last piece of fluorocarbon caught fish until it too got ripped off by a goliath, and we did not catch another snapper from that school. After stocking the boat with $200 in light fluorocarbon leader material on the next trip, we caught all the snapper we wanted.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected]