Mangrove Snapper are also called grey snapper and locally called black snapper. Whichever name you would like to use, you will find they are one of the most challenging reef fish to target on your fishing charter. This is due to how they eat as well as where they eat. Mangrove snappers are incredibly finicky eaters. It is possible to catch them with heavy gear while fishing for Red Snapper and Grouper, but they will normally turn down heavy terminal tackle. When they do engage a bait, they often do not immediately engulf the bait like most fish on the reef. They often just swim with the bait in their mouths toward their hide out. If you increase pressure on the line too quickly, they simply let go. If you wait to long, they have made it home and will cut your line off on the structure. Once hooked, the Mangrove Snapper will fight until brought out of the water.
Chumming them to the surface is a good way to target this species but requires suitable conditions to pull it off. Trying to do this in a current or rough seas will be difficult. You can also target them by reducing your tackle signature, but doing so on a spot with high populations of Red Snapper and Grouper will result in a lot of lost tackle. When the conditions are right, fishing for Mangroves can be quite pleasing for anglers looking for a challenge.
Mangrove Snapper can be retained year-round and have a federal water bag limit of 10 per person. Mangroves must be 12” long to retain on Federally licensed boats. A 5lb fish is a nice one and anything above 10lbs is a beauty. Catching one or two of these while fishing for other species is not unusual. However, catching a good quantity of Mangroves normally only happens when focusing the effort on this species.
Mangrove rank in the top tier of reef fish in regards to table fare. We put them in just behind Grouper with all of the snapper species. They do have a bit heavier blood line than other snappers, but that can be trimmed away during culinary preparation. Some of our favorite ways to enjoy them is fried, grilled or blackened. We also use them in ceviche and fish tacos.
The Florida State Mangrove Record is 17lbs, caught in Port Canaveral in 1992.
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