What's hot: Mangrove snapper have shown up in good numbers inside the bay. Almost every submerged rocky structure we've fished has produced legal-sized or better. Scaled sardines, small threadfins and tiny pinfish are snapper favorites, but a live shrimp dropped to the bottom will be devoured. Plus, shrimp can lure sheepshead still holding on the formations.
Rig right: Knocker rigs are perfect to detect snappers' quick, sharp strikes. Use light leaders as the fish have keen eyesight and ignore heavier lines. Determine the weight of the sliding egg sinker by the water depth and amount of current. Typically, anything from a quarter-ounce to 2 ounces will work. Florida law requires inline circle hooks for snapper in state waters, including inside the bay.
Target areas: Snapper will gather on any high relief structure, including natural limestone outcroppings and artificial reefs. They also can be found around bridge or pier pilings and channel markers. Some of the best snapper grounds are along the edges of the shipping channel, where the bottom was blasted out with dynamite to create depth for large vessels. Fish the uptide side of these structures.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at [email protected] and (727) 510-1009.