Cap­tain’s Corner

Tampa Bay Times - - Baseball -

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

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