The night mangrove snapper bite offshore remains red hot. Good-sized fish have been active in depths of 90 feet or more off Tarpon Springs. We ran an overnight trip recently and were surprised how good snapper started to bite after sundown. Even without chum, they became very active as soon as the sunlight faded. Just about any spot where there was a big ledge or structure had mangroves up to 7 pounds. Some shad more than others, but we figured out how to identify which would hold the most fish. As we moved around during the day, we would occasionally catch one or two large snapper while grouper fishing. After dark we returned to those areas and fish would stack up on the sonar 25 feet above the bottom. It seems mangroves are not feeding during the day. If you catch a few while the sun is up, the same spot likely will be great after dark. Once the night bite starts, snapper let their guard down, so the need for tricky light tackle and fluorocarbon leaders is over. Most of the biggest fish we’ve caught lately were on 50-pound monofilament line, rigged as a “chicken rig” with a hook tied into the line above an 8-ounce sinker. Bait selection after dark made no difference. We dipped live shrimp, squid and crab from the transom lights and all worked fine, but strips of tough cut bait worked equally as well.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .