Fishing for snapper is a ton of fun. Once you get them hooked, you’re in for a fight! Not to mention, they taste great too. Read our expert advice and you’ll be guaranteed to catch more snapper next time out!
Different Types of Snapper
There are many different types of snapper. Here’s an introduction to some of the most popular species.
The largest of all snappers is the Cubera Snapper. These are reef dweller fishes that inhabit both inshore and offshores of the western Atlantic Ocean. You’d recognize a Cubera Snapper by its big head, orange/reddish scales on its body, and solid canine teeth peeking out towards you.
You may hear about people catching 100-pound Cuberas, but you’ll be lucky enough to catch a 30-40 pounder. These can be caught on live bait or pieces of dead bait. If you’re able to hook one of these snappers, get ready for a fight!
Red Snappers are undoubtedly the tastiest and crispiest snapper species. They can be enjoyed either broiled, pan-fried, steamed grilled, or fried. Red Snappers have deep rosy red color and weigh approximately around 2-4 pounds, but there are exceptions to adults who can go beyond 30 pounds.
Red Snappers are common along the eastern coasts of the American continent. Unlike Cubera Snappers, it prefers deeper water and can be found preying on shrimp, small fish, or crabs.
Red Snapper has been excessively overhunted for the past few decades, causing several states to impose regulations on its fishing. Make sure to check your state’s stand on it.
Lane Snappers, sometimes called Spot Snapper because of the prominent black spot on their back, is a yellow striped snapper that is vividly colored fish that roam in shallow waters throughout the western Atlantic Ocean. They have an oblong, compressed body, weighing around 3.5kgs (7.7lbs), and are regarded as great eating fish.
The good thing about Lane Snapper is they’re pretty easy to catch even if you’re a beginner or if you have kids around who are just starting. Lane Snapper meat is entirely white and tastes delicious.
Snapper Feeding Habits
Over 100 species of Snappers are found in abundance near the tropics and the western Atlantic Ocean. Since they inhabit a broad range of habitats, their food source too is diverse. They like to roam different water levels but spend most of their time near the sea bed.
Snappers will eat almost any animal they can without an ounce of discrimination, i.e., crustaceans (shrimps, crayfishes, crabs), mollusks (octopi, shellfish), and sea urchins, starfishes, and worms.
Best Time to Catch Snapper
Many new anglers struggle with getting their favorite catch, but reeling into a snapper isn’t a big deal when you know what you’re looking for and when and how to get it. Snappers can be tricky to catch and vary with their behaviors even at the best time of the year. For instance, some remain within their small areas while others move across hundreds of kilometers annually.
The larger snappers, as opposed to small ones, like to ramble around reefy areas, wreckages and can be found there all year round.
The late summer is the best time of the year to catch snappers when they’re eager enough and feed voraciously at anything moving!
The time of year does matter, but so does the shore tide and the daylight too. Since snappers are amongst some of the cautious fishes of the world, reeling them in clear water isn’t ideal. Just make sure the tides are favorable and changing lights either early mornings or late evenings will significantly increase the chances of a great catch.
Best Tackle for Snapper
Although most rods will work for catching snapper, there are definitely some that work better than others. The same goes for line and hooks. So let’s talk about the best tackle for catching snapper.
Best Rod for Snapper
The significant part about snapper fishing is it can be enjoyed with any light-weighted rod you’ve been using on fishing trips. However, when you have a snapper on the pole, it’ll fight fiercely and may bend the pole, so flexibility should be the prime element in your rod. Also a light spinning tackle would work great in onshore fishing situations. Go for a 7-foot medium action rod with a good reel if you’re planning to go into deeper water.
A rule of thumb for choosing a line is that the line should match the weight of the species you’re looking for, i.e., a 20 lbs. line would do great if you’re expecting to catch a 20 lbs. snapper. A monofilament line works best for casting stray line baits in shallow waters. Another option is braid, which is more sensitive land works better with lures.
Hooks for Snapper
Circle hooks work perfectly for snaps that hit and run the bait. Generally, 4/0 to 6/0 for smaller and most snaps, including red snappers, whereas 7/0 to 8/0 for larger snappers up to 20lbs. In addition to that, circle hooks are also suitable for catch and release purposes. Furthermore, the long shank hooks have worked for many anglers as they look more like natural-looking baits.
Best Bait for Snapper
Although snappers will often take an artificial lure, most of the snaps would only fall far live bait or cut bait.
For shallow waters, live shrimp, sardines, inch pinfish are good options as they’re easily caught and work effectively in attracting snappers. However, the problem with shrimps is that small fishes often take small pieces away, rendering the bait useless for big buddies.
For offshores and deep water fishing, any local fish would do the job. Many anglers also cut baits or strip baits, usually fresh or frozen meat chunks of other fishes. Octopus, pogies, cigars, minnows, and squids are good options for cut or strip baits. Use the cut baits effectively, and who knows when you’re catching a 20lbs Snapper.
Tips for Catching Snapper
The Right Timing- You’ll have higher chances of getting a great catch if you work around a tide change. Make sure you fish on the right tide, and the best approach would be to target the first hours after the tide changes, i.e., Dawn, Dusk.
Research Your Area- Fishing can be an uncertain sport sometimes, and the school might not appear in the same place where it used to be earlier. So it is always a good idea to study the beach, ideally at low tide. You can even ask the locals about the fishing patterns. Most people are more than happy to help a beginner.
Choose a Fresh Bait- Snappers aren’t fussy as Bass and would easily find their way on to an artificial or live bait. Whichever you use, make sure to keep it fresh. You’ll always get more bites when the bait still has its scent.
WHY CAN’T YOU CATCH A TROPHY? – It’s the right tide, the seasonal pattern is favorable too, and everyone’s getting a catch except you. An easy principle to remember in such situations is to switch to different lures or bait. Trust me, this works every time!
Hello! My name is Tim and I’ve been fishing for over 30 years. I’ve learned a lot about fishing during that time and I love sharing that knowledge with others. I’m also a member of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Thanks for checking out the site!