Boca Ciega Snapper Fishing

Tampa Bay Snapper

An early start was the key to limiting out on tasty Tampa Bay mangrove snapper this weekend. I arrived at Merry Pier on 8th Avenue in St. Pete Beach at around 5 a.m., loaded up with frozen spanish sardines. The plan was to nail a few big grouper, but the snapper were so thick, the grouper barely stood a chance. Snook were pooping bait by the dock, as well as out in the channel, and there were a few taron rolling as the sun came up.

The rigs were simple; a light 2/0 Owner hook, about 16″ of flourocarbon leader, a #10 swivel, and 3/8th oval sinker.

I was a bit surprised to see snapper hitting cut frozen sardines, but then these were 14-17″ fish, weighing in at 2-3 pounds. When I switched over to shrimp, it was nothing but 8-10″ fish. Hmmmmm…. guess I know what I’ll be using next trip.    

I stopped counting snapper after about 30. Also got pinfish, mother-in-law fish, squirrelfish, spadefish, and, yes, grouper. The biggest grouper came at surise Saturday, and measured 21″ on the tape, with tail pinched. Soooo close… Got about a dozen between 12-19″. Keeper grouper remain elusive, but I’m pretty determined. Next rip for sure.  

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