Pro Insider – Mangrove Snapper abundant in Tampa Bay

With grouper and red snapper fishing closed for so long, we have had to change gears and target different species. Fortunately, the west coast of our area is loaded with many different species of snapper. Mangrove snapper are the most abundant and can be found inside Tampa Bay around most bridges and rock piles. The Skyway is a great place to start. Target the snapper around the main span rock piles by anchoring and chumming with glass minnows or small pieces of cut sardines. Light tackle and small hooks help. These snappers also can be found offshore in depths of a little more than 200 feet. Fishing for them in these depths requires a little more weight, but the technique is still the same, lots of chum. Yellowtail snapper are much more prevalent in the southern waters, but if you learn a few tricks and apply them at your favorite snapper spot, you might find out there are more out here than you think. Target them on large, high profile areas like wrecks and large breaks. Other good tailin’ spots are the rock piles offshore near the pipeline. Try anchoring well up current and deploy a couple of chum blocks. Next, rig a small spinning rod with little or no lead and float small pieces of cut sardines or shrimp back into the chum slick. Lane snapper can be found at most of your favorite red grouper spots. They are less prone to be found on structure and prefer smaller roll-offs and areas where hard bottom meets the sand. Their main food sources are small crabs and small shrimp that will be found in these areas. The main thing about snapper, no matter what species, is they have great eyesight. So anything you can do to make your terminal tackle less visible helps.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at(727) 642-3411 and

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