By DAVE WALKER
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 29, 2001
Summer heat and humidity have limited the time most anglers are willing to spend to find fish. Risking heatstroke, fisherman that have ventured out in Old Tampa Bay have reaped the reward of some nice catches of mangrove snapper. Give a spot a half-hour or so. If it does not produce, move on. This time of year, a ride with a cooling breeze always sounds like a good idea.
The best places to look for snapper would be any area with structure and good water flow. Bridges, rock piles, the edges of ship channels and range markers are excellent areas to find these tasty creatures. They will congregate to these spots but spook easily. Usually the first few drops are the most productive. Be ready to seize your opportunity. The strikes are ferocious at times, but some snapper hits are very subtle. Set the hook on the first indication of a strike. It is like the old sheepshead theory: "Set the hook before it hits." These notorious tricksters will require ample bait.
Many fishermen make the mistake of using a hook that is too large for snapper. A size 2 or 4, stout live bait hook works well in most situations. Attach it to 30-pound leader material, preferably fluorocarbon, backed with 10- to 20-pound mono. The larger ones will require heavier equipment.
The snapper will cooperate even on the hottest days summer has to offer. They are a fun fish to catch as well as to put on the dinner table.
- Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 831-0355.