Florida Snapper & Grouper Fishing

Big Tampa Bay Snapper

As the water continues to heat up, so does the fishing. I spent a few hours both Saturday and Sunday hanging out at the Merry Pier in St. Pete Beach. Live shrimp was the bait of choice. The technique- tail hook a medium shrimp on a #2 Owner hook with a foot of 30″ flourocarbon leader and a 1/4 ounce weight, and drop down next to the pilings of the Pier. And I mean RIGHT next to the pilings- a foot or two away, and you’d get no action.

The bite consisted almost entirely of gag grouper and mangrove snapper (no snook around, although I did pull in a 20″ filefish). The snapper bite was the typical tap-tap-tap, while the grouper would announce their presence with a heavy ‘thud’. My friend Tim ventured down from Tampa on Sunday, and we probably caught 50+ fish between the two of us. The grouper ran to around 19″ (no keepers- yet), and the snapper were in the 8-12″ range. Plenty of keepers mixed in with the smaller fish. Pictured above was a fat 16″ mangrove snapper that I caught on Saturday.

Tarpon were rolling, although individually and not in schools. Lots of Mac’s were popping the clouds of glass minnows that hung by the dock, but they seemed oblivious to a freelined shrimp. Odd. A manatee family grazed by the pilings north of the pier. I had a report of a ‘true black’ grouper caught on the dock last week- very unusual for inshore, and much rarer than the occassional red grouper that I pull in. There were a few Jack Cravelle caught, but no big schools showing yet. Won’t be long, though…

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