By Kelly Groce
Mangrove snapper on topwaters? This might not be the most common way to target a gray snapper, known mostly by you and I as a mangrove, but it is definitely the most visually pleasing way to catch these colorful, tough fighting fish.
Mangrove snapper can be found both inshore and offshore along the entire Texas coast. Offshore platforms, rigs and wrecks where red snapper can be found is also where mangroves will be. The jetties, pilings and bulkheads are preferred inshore areas for these fish to socialize.
On a recent trip with Capt. Brian Barrera out of South Padre Island, we both worked topwaters near deep pilings and walls. Our weapon of choice was the Shimano Coltnsiper 95mm Hi Pitch topwater in the color White Bait. These lures have a glass fiber construction which emits a high-pitch rattling; perfect for this scenario.
“Work your lure fast to make it as loud as possible,” Capt. Brian advised, so that I did. As my Coltsniper made a commotion on the surface, I could see several mangrove snapper immerging from the dark depths and darting up towards my lure. A cast or two later, we both hooked up. We were casting off the stern of the boat, but would quickly move towards the bow to ensure that the fish stayed on. What a fun fight! I knew these fang-toothed fish were aggressive, but I was extremely impressed by their hostile reaction to my lure.
We caught and released several good-sized mangos that day, but kept one for dinner. Mangrove snapper is at the top of my table fare list as far as inshore fish go. Anytime we keep a mangrove to eat, I bring it scaled and gutted to Daddy’s Cajun Kitchen & Seafood Market on the island. They fry the whole fish to perfection and serve it with perfectly steamed vegetables, roasted corn and potatoes. If you’ve never had mangrove snapper cooked this style before, get ready, you’re in for a real treat.
Kelly Groce is a native Texan and water lover. She loves living on the third coast and be able to fish, surf, and enjoy nature on a daily basis. If she's not doing graphic design, photo-editing, or writing, she's enjoying the great outdoors with a camera in her hand.