Plenty of deepwater structures hold fish.
As inshore fisheries become more and more pressured, anglers are buying offshore boats to target the surplus of species found in the deeper waters of the Sportsman’s Paradise. Among the cobia, red snapper, amberjack, grouper, and occasional tuna bagged, mangrove snapper have etched their rightful place as a preferred offshore quarry.
Mangrove snapper are quickly becoming a favorite to catch, cook and eat for Louisianians. The creel limit is five times that of red snapper, which makes them a tantalizing option for anglers who want to fill their freezers.
Mangrove snapper can be found anywhere from Venice to Grand Isle to Cocodrie, with Cocodrie perhaps the best-known mangrove snapper destination — and it’s easy to see why.
South of the town are a series of barrier islands, and only a short boat ride away are a multitude of offshore structures, first-class habitat for these fish.
Mangrove snapper associate directly with structure. Offshore rigs, artificial reefs, bridges, oyster reefs, jetties and even piers are places you can catch them. In Cocodrie, they are often caught around oil and gas rigs that spatter the offshore landscape.
Electronics are essential for having a successful trip. Not all of the oil and gas rigs will hold substantial amounts of baitfish.
What to use
Anglers new to targeting mangrove snapper often make the mistake of using the same rig they use for red snapper. Multi-hook setups and 80-pound fluorocarbon leaders usually will not work for these finicky fish. One may be cajoled into biting, but the bites will be few and far between.
Mangrove snapper are renowned for being very intelligent and having excellent eyesight. They will not bite any bait from a rig that has beads or a visible weight. The best setup is a 2- to 4-foot fluorocarbon leader that isn’t too heavy and about a 3/0 circle hook. Water clarity should influence the size leader you use. The clearer the water, the smaller the line; the murkier the water, the line size will not matter.
Reel size will be dependent on how deep you will be fishing, but a 4000 to 6000 series reel should be adequate. The best rod to use is a 7-foot, fast action. Unlike red snapper, mangrove snapper are known to be relatively light biters.
Anglers will want to position their boat up current, so that their bait can drift through the mangrove snapper habitat naturally. Live shrimp and baitfish are great bait. If you plan to chum a platform for mangroves, dead cut bait will work as well.
Time and time again, one of the biggest mistakes made while fishing for mangrove snapper is when anglers go to “set the hook.” Never jerk your rod up at the first tap. Wait until the rod tip bends steadily down and then start reeling.