The Tampa Bay Times
Mangrove snapper are chewing good along the ships channel in Tampa Bay . Choosing the right hours to fish em’ is key. During full moon phases like we’re just coming off of now, the moon sets fairly early in the mornings (check the weather page in our paper for exact times). Mangos eat well on the falling moon but you may go from catching four at a time to struggle to get a bite once it sets. During the other moon phases I like to concentrate on the major and minor solunar periods and pay special attention to the hours surrounding tide changes. Bait has been vital on our successful trips lately. Much of what you see “raining” on the surface on many of our flats are smaller than I like. Anchoring and chumming has produced larger ones. Some call them pilchards, others call them scaled sardines, we call them whitebait and they work the best. We’d normally catch plenty of pinfish while gathering bait but they have become non-existent on the flats along Snell Isle. With some of the mangos as large as they are, some bigger baits are productive. We’ve been taking along some frozen sardines. Because of the size of the fish and rocky terrain we’ll use 20 lb. test, a 2 oz. egg sinker above a foot and a half length of 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader and a one ought hook. With the numbers and size of them, you can be selective of those you choose to keep. Let the little fellas’ go… they don’t yield much meat when you go to clean them anyway.
Captain Jay Mastry