Terminal tackle tips for more mangroves

Lane Zimmer has come up with a tackle system that helps him consistently catch more mangroves than other anglers.
Lane Zimmer has come up with a tackle system that helps him consistently catch more mangroves than other anglers.

Capt. Lane Zimmer has battled mangrove snapper enough to have seen all the highs and lows that come with going after these smart fish inhabiting oil rigs close to Louisiana’s coastline.

The most-important lessen he’s learned is that to consistently fool mangroves he has to make his presentation as invisible as possible.

“I’ve come up with a system that works for me through a lot of trail and error,” Zimmer said. “And the way I’ve learned what works is paying attention to what doesn’t work.”

Case in point: He started out fishing big hooks before realizing he had to change to smaller hooks. Then he fished thin-wire hooks before learning that he had to fish thicker hooks.

“The two I use now are the 2/0 Gamakatsu circle octopus hook and the 3/0 Mustad UltraPoint Demon Perfect 1x circle hook,” Zimmer said. “I’ve gone through so many over the years — some not as strong at that same size that straighten to the point they look like they’ve never even been bent.

“These two do the job, though.”

As for line, Zimmer spools his reels with heavy braided line, but he always ties about a 5-foot length of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader using either a uni-to-uni or an Albright knot connection.

“I start with 40-pound (leader) and adjust from there,” Zimmer said. “If they don’t hit 40-pound, I know I’ve got to go smaller. If I think it’s dirty enough for me to go up to 50-pound, I will — but only if they keep biting.

“The fish will tell you what they want.”

Zimmer uses fluorocarbon because it has as close to the same light refractive index as water, which means it virtually disappears under water.

And believing mangroves can spot coils of line in the water, he ties one end of his leader to a boat cleat and jerks on it to straighten it out.

But even all of this isn’t enough to satisfy Zimmer. That’s why he takes the time to hide his hooks inside pieces of Spanish sardine. Rather than thread his hook straight through the eyes, he’ll run it through the eyes and then bury it inside a little slot he makes in the meat.

“By the time I’m done, I’m fishing a bait that is as natural as I can make it,” Zimmer said. “And that’s the only way I’ve learned to consistently catch these finicky mangrove snapper.”

About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at chrisginn.com.